Any child ever enrolled in public school remembers the two best words a teacher could possibly utter: “Field trip.” Museums, libraries, parks, and hikes were childhood dreams come true. As a kid, there was no better news than: “Instead of sitting at a desk for five hours, we’re going to play with live animals at the petting zoo.” Yet for some reason, as children grow up, they make fewer trips to places like the zoo, the museum, or even the botanical gardens… and it’s starting to show.
Jeff Foxworthy has made millions of dollars capitalizing on the lack of education in America. It’s the theme for his entire career, from redneck jokes, to Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader? Nothing against Jeff, he’s a nice guy, but why is the percentage of people who can scholastically out smart 11 year olds lower than 90%? In a word, it’s museums. The majority of people in the Phoenix metropolitan area live or work less than 20 minutes from a museum, yet the clientele of the Arizona Science Center is mostly children. Many of the adults that are patrons are teachers, parents or chaperones, or press writers looking for a story. -Ahem-
People look at museums in much the same way they look at old Disney films. They’re made for kids, and have an overall lesson hidden somewhere in them. Nowadays though, museums are more like Pixar films. They’re great for kids, have a hidden life lesson, but are entertaining enough for adults to watch for a couple of hours. In fact, in some ways, adults may enjoy them more because of the life experiences they have to draw from and relate to. More adults need to attend museums, especially for subjects in which they claim to have done poorly in school. Not just to generate interest, but to have a claim based in logical reason as to why they didn’t like the subject. Now if only there was a way to get a mathematics museum.