Thursday, August 26, 2021

Educators Learn from Theme Park?

A higher education consultant in Pensacola, Florida, Pam Northrup has worked for years with Universal Studios professionals on innovative approaches to STEM education. Pam Northrup and her TEQGames at Universal Studios colleagues have discussed ways to make classrooms more like theme parks.

The dissemination of knowledge was a big part of the fundamental mission behind the world’s first major theme park, Disneyland. In fact, Walt Disney welcomed “teachers and pupils” to Disneyland as a place to find “greater ways of understanding and education.”

While public education critics have long bemoaned what they call the “factory model” that most school systems have adopted, some innovative educators have presented other models that draw inspiration from theme parks. Specifically, educators can follow in the footsteps of Walt Disney by stressing the instructional power of narrative and play, two things that people gravitate toward naturally. Curriculum designers can also follow in the footsteps of theme park designers by establishing clear landmarks (which enable students to look forward to future learning) and establishing demarcated transitions (which take students from one themed “land” to another).

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