Working in family spaces within galleries and museums, I have observed a marked difference in the way parents and grandparents interact with their children and grandchildren. I call this the Pressured Vs Precious divide.
Parents often ask closed questions that allow them to check if their child is reaching those all-important developmental milestones such as: "What colour are you using?" or "How many ... are there?"
Moreover if their child veers off task, more often than not, parents attempt to steer their child back on track, providing direction like a teacher. This approach is understandable given the personal responsibility parents feel in providing as many learning opportunities for their child as possible. They attempt to validate these efforts and perhaps reassure themselves by ticking knowledge boxes.
|Playing games in the Victoria and Albert Museum of Childhood UK.|
Grandparents, Aunties and Uncles however are often more content to engage in make-believe play with children in their care; be it creating a collaborative drawing together or building a hamburger out of cushions in the foyer. They are more likely to ask open ended questions and allow the child to make choices for themselves such as: "Tell me more about your drawing." or "What would you like to do now?"
They appear to be more relaxed, content to simply enjoy the child's company and be in the moment. Perhaps this is because they have already been through the pressures of life, raised their own children and now they are at a point where time with the next generation is most precious.
Have you noticed the Pressured Vs Precious time divide playing out in your workplace?
If galleries and Museums are so different to school classrooms, how can we as interpretative staff engage families and respond to these different relationship dynamics?
I'd love to hear your observations.
|Drawbridge - an interactive theatre and visual artwork by Polyglot, Melbourne Australia.|