Museum education
: Exploring its value for schoolchildren, teachers and museum professionals. A qualitative study

  • Collette Brownlee

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Education


The study explores a gap in knowledge regarding the attitudes and perceptions of three stakeholder groups to museum education: children, teachers and museum professionals. It examines democratised museum education practice as a means of raising public awareness of the relevance and value of museums. It explores the potential for recognising child voice in children's cultural participation through museums, highlighting museums as education providers. The study proposes that embedding child agency in institutions is part of a democratising process redefining museum education. It counters outmoded perceptions of museum learning as offering isolated experiences, presenting it instead as interactive and social with potential for personal, professional and institutional impact. This learning process is transactional, facilitated through a pedagogy of the real which reflects museums as unique learning places. The study aligns the social nature of participant-based practice and experiential learning to John Dewey's (1859-1952) theories of interest and democratisation. It highlights the significance of prioritising child agency in institutions as an ethical responsibility, rather than as an adjunct to the social role of museums. It proposes that a more cohesive, shared authority approach with participants and partners, inside and outside the museum sector, would increase awareness of the wider implications of the transforming potential of museum education.
Date of AwardJul 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SponsorsLisburn and Castlereagh City Council
SupervisorLesley Emerson (Supervisor) & James Nelson (Supervisor)


  • Pedagogy of the real
  • shared authority
  • participant based practice
  • museum education
  • education for transformation
  • democratising education

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