Johnson Museum of Art, closed to field trips, continues to educate children

While the past two years of virtual and blended learning have been unusual and empowering for students across the country, Carol Hockett, Hinsta Family Director of School and Family Programs at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art in India Cornell University, was determined to expand the classroom experience for K-12 students in the greater Ithaca area through art.

For years, Hockett led K-12 field trips at the Johnson Museum. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hockett has begun leading field trips through virtual classroom instruction. Additionally, over the past year, Hockett has made school visits as classes have returned in person. Hockett has made more than 350 virtual school tours, and in 2021 she reached more than 6,100 students through her classes.

When it comes to course content, Hockett expects each course to be unique based on a given teacher’s current curriculum.

“We take the art resources and build that connection to the curriculum so you have an enhanced learning experience that connects to the museum and the wider art world,” Hockett said.

Jenna Griffith, an eighth-grade English teacher at Dryden Middle School, involved her classes in Johnson Museum programs for three years.

“What we learn in ELA connects very well to art. Students learn to identify metaphors and patterns in paintings,” Griffith said.

Griffith used one of these exhibits at the Johnson Museum to teach about migration in the context of crises.

“The artwork in one particular exhibit was made by refugees and immigrants, so it was powerful for students to see the same concepts we discuss in class in the modern, real world through art” , said Griffith.

Other teachers praised Hockett’s methods. Rebecca Siegrist, a sixth-grade social studies teacher at Boynton Middle School in Ithaca, told The Sun that Hockett provides an affirmation of support for students’ ideas, encouraging them to think freely and confidently.

“Students make so many analogies and really take the artwork to heart. They are critical thinkers and rise to the occasion because [Hockett’s classes] are something that sparks a lot of curiosity in them,” Griffith said.

When the Johnson Museum hosted in-person field trips before the pandemic, for many students, the Johnson was often the first art museum they went to, and Cornell was the first college campus they ever put their feet on. feet.

“For many, this is the first and only art museum they have visited, and perhaps their first trip to a college campus, or their first interaction with artwork from another culture. So it’s a very transformative experience. We look forward to the return of this day. Hocket said.

With Cornell University protocols currently prohibiting K-12 field trips at Johnson, Hockett’s virtual classes fill that gap.

“Even though we’re not at the museum in person, it was still an enriching learning experience,” Griffith said.

Siegrist explains in more detail how Hockett and Johnson were able to take advantage of virtual learning and provide students with unique digitized works of art.

“We were learning about ancient China, and one of the works of art [Hockett] virtually a 3D model of the Great Wall of China that students could manipulate on screen. My students, especially my computer science students, were fascinated by how an object on a 2D screen could look like 3D,” Siegrist said.

Siegrist also notes that virtual learning has the added benefit of allowing students to focus on a single work of art instead of being distracted by everything else in the museum.

Most importantly, Johnson Museum programs have had a lasting impact on students.

“Students came to me a month later during their lunches and study halls to tell me about an exhibition [about immigration]. It really changed their lives because it changed how they felt about their classmates and their community… They didn’t just think about it at the museum, it’s something they really spent time on treat, read and talk to their families,” Siegrist mentioned.

While the Johnson Museum remains closed to those outside of the direct Cornell community, pre-K through 12 students in the greater Ithaca area remain excited to continue participating in programs.

“Whenever Carol joins us virtually or in person, my students always ask me ‘when will she be back? right away,” Siegrist said.

Correction, March 7, 10:05 a.m.: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Hockett’s class had reached 1,600 students and incorrectly stated that she had made 350 in-person visits. She made 350 virtual tours and her classes reached 6,100.

About Carlos V. Mitchell

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