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Fostering Critical Thinking in Schools and Museums

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Dr. Carolyn Maher, Professor of Learning and TeachingRutgers University, and Director, Robert B. Davis Institute for LearningRebecca Shulman Herz, Senior Education ManagerSolomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and Guest Editor of the Summer 2007 issue of the Journal of Museum EducationAll children are born capable of critical thinking. But, all too often a persons capacities for critical thinking are underutilized, especially in contexts intended to encourage learning. Dr. Maher presents results from a remarkable long-term study, now in its 20th year, that follows a cohort of children as they grow from first grade through college and beyond, to trace how their abilities for critical thinking grow and evolve. Looking at an example drawn from childrens thinking in mathematics, her study demonstrates that when a childs capacities for critical thinking are honored, even modest opportunities for learning can make a lasting impact, build self- esteem, and provide tools children can take with them to achieve productive careers.The presentation, which includes video, is followed by a panel discussion that will explore the parallels between critical thinking in contexts important to museums, and Professor Mahers research in mathematics, to investigate how the ideas presented might be built upon or not in museum contexts, fostering critical thinking among its visitors.Rebecca Shulman Herz, Senior Education Manager of Learning Through Art at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and guest editor of the Summer 2007 issue of the Journal of Museum Education serves as discussant following Professor Mahers talk. Ms. Herz speaks about the impact of museum-based school programs on critical thinking skills: Why museums are creating and investigating programs that aim to develop critical thinking skills and what recent research is telling us about the effectiveness of these programs in teaching critical thinking skills in museums.For more information on the Guggenheim's Learning Through Art program and its research into the development of critical thinking skills among its students, visit www.learningthroughart.org. Thursday, June 28, 2007Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

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