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A visit from the U.S. Secretary of Education

We were delighted to host a visit earlier this week by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. He selected the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center as a site to kick-off his back-to-school effort, and it was a tremendous honor for this excellent program. Secretary Duncan’s visit was also wonderful recognition of the educational role of museums.

The National Museum of American History is at heart an educational organization, serving pre-school through college and post-graduate students in addition to providing top-notch professional development. We put a lot of effort into developing the high quality resources for teachers, students and parents that can be found on Smithsonian’s History Explorer. However our educational activities reach even more widely into every aspect of our public operation. We define educational goals for every exhibition, Web site, public program and publication, so that every interaction with our museum presents a learning opportunity.

One of the great things about visiting and working in a museum is this ability to be constantly learning, in a fashion that is totally self-directed. We provide the inspiration and material to find or follow passions, and learning takes place every day on both our public floors and behind the scenes. This week I’m reviewing scripts for three new exhibits and learning more about the Revolutionary War, history of photography, and WWII era technology invention.

So while at home the start of school looms for my children and it is time to buy those back-to-school supplies and step up my harassment about completing summer homework, at work every day is gladly devoted to learning. Please let us know how we can better support your learning in school and out.

Judy Gradwohl is Associate Director for Public Programs at the National Museum of American History.

Posted in Musings