The Journey so far…
Hello Everyone and welcome to my blog!
I have got a little away from the posed questions in my intro, but I think the story of how I came to be here is quite relevant to the Info Programs subject, so here it is…
My name is Sharee and at the moment I find it a bit hard to describe myself – especially when people ask me that inevitable question, ‘what do you do?’. The reason that it is hard is because I am going through a phase of major change in my life and that has involved trying out quite a few different things.
For most of my life I have been a stay at home Mum to four gorgeous children living in a fairly remote rural city in South Australia. My journey of child raising was a bit different to most, as my husband and I decided we would homeschool our four children. This was because I had recently trained as a teacher and was enthusiastic and excited about all the things I had learnt about how to create great learning environments, but when I went to visit the schools looking for a suitable place for my son none of them lived up to my ideas of what a great school should be – in fact they were a long way from it. This was made worse by the fact that my son had attended an amazing kindergarten where they created a fantastic learning environment and that just made all the schools look even worse! You can see an example of the kind of programs the kindergarten was doing, Orion project here and some photos here (look down the very bottom of the first page – that’s my son Jayden squatting in front of the sign holding a big green apple!). It was an amazing place and really opened my eyes to what could be achieved by an organisation with a thoughtful, innovative and brave leader, and a gang of 4 year old children.
From here it was a natural step for us to choose to continue at home in the style of learning we had enjoyed at the kindergarten rather than sending our son to a regular school, and so our homeschooling journey began.
For close to 20 years homeschooling was my passion. As well as spending a huge amount of time doing fun things with my kids, I took on the role of co-ordinator for our local homeschool community, contact person for new families considering homeschooling, organiser of events locally and on a state wide level, and contributor to magazines and websites. I saw this as a very meaningful and worthwhile ‘job’ and loved every minute of it (well almost!). The only problem was that my kids grew up, and suddenly I was made redundant! It is REALLY hard to know what to do with yourself when such a heartfelt job is coming to an end, so for the last few years I have been trying to find my new direction.
I started my journey of discovery by returning to teaching as an art teacher both in schools and in my own after school art class business. Then we moved to Brisbane and I decided to head back to uni to do something different. I actually really wanted to study fine arts, but there were no post graduate degrees in that, so I started a Master of Museum Studies instead – mostly because I thought the course looked interesting more than any burning desire to work in a museum. Through this course I became interested in the role that museums could play in their communities. In museum circles, as in library circles, there is a lot of discussion about how we can stay relevant in the digital age, and a lot of research is suggesting that the answer might be for museums to take on more of a role as facilitators of community conversations rather than the traditional role of keeper and purveyor of knowledge. You can read more about this in Nina Simmons blog – she is the guru of participatory museums. This is really embarrassing, but you can see me talking about my beliefs about museums in a 1 minute spot at QUT’s TedX event here .
I became really interested in the ways that museums could help to build stronger communities but when I looked around me, I saw not the museums, but the libraries taking that central role in our communities. I particularly love the way SLQ work with groups from the community to develop exhibitions and programs and provide ways for community members to have input. For example, if you look at this schedule of events for their recent Distant Lines exhibition you can see lots of activities that allow community members to get involved, and also a large section of the exhibition space was devoted to community curated exhibitions as well. I actually undertook my museum studies placement at SLQ because I wanted to learn more about how they worked there.
So, here I am today – defected from Museum Studies to Library Practice and it has been a great move for me. In fact, it’s not really that I have defected, I feel more like I have just extended my learning as this course is building on those interests that I developed in my previous studies. It is really interesting for me to compare the two organisations and the research that surrounds each. I am particularly looking forward to this subject as it obviously ties in to my interest in the GLAM organisations and how they can support their communities – it is an area I have thought about a lot and I look forward to exploring these ideas even further.
Perhaps developing communities will be my superpower!