In conjunction with the exhibition RACE: Are We So Different? currently on view at the National Museum of Natural History (June 18, 2011 through January 8, 2012) , the Smithsonian is creating programming throughout its various museums and learning centers that supports public conversations about this important topic.
This much talked about, and well-received exhibit explores the topic of race from cultural, historical, and scientific perspectives and provides for positive dialogue and reflection.
The Locker Project
What is race? What does race mean to you? Has your life been affected by race? These are the questions we asked middle and high school students from the District of Columbia Public Schools to reflect on as they created and four lockers that are an integral part of the installation of RACE: Are We So Different? at the National Museum of Natural History. Come see how students at Kimball Elementary School, School Without Walls, Bell Multicultural High School, and CentroNia worked together to create lockers that represent each group's point of view.
Highlighted Initiative Partner
Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center
The Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center (SEEC) is a museum-based lab school located in the Smithsonian museum complex.Â Our child development center serves children between the ages of 3 months to 6 years of age through our preschool program and kindergarten. Our mission is two-fold: to provide a high-quality educational program for young children, and to advance educational opportunities for all children by sharing SEEC's expertise on a national level, thereby furthering the education mandate of the Smithsonian Institution.Â SEEC's educational philosophy encourages respect for the child and recognizes the unique nature of the individual. Hands-on exploration and discovery, both in the classroom and the museum, offer a chance to construct knowledge from personal experience. Through the comprehensive collections housed in the Washington DC community, children develop an understanding of the diversity of the world.Â The SEEC philosophy is based upon five key concepts: Child-oriented learning, real-world integrated learning, cultural diversity, critical thinking skills, and aesthetic awareness.
The Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center's educators bring a unique and important educational skill set and perspective to the RACE exhibition project. As thoughtful educators concerned about providing high quality educational experiences for young children, SEEC staff are encouraged to continuously expand their understanding and knowledge of topics relevant to SEEC children and the SI community. SEEC staff have a deep knowledge of how young children learn and experience with presenting sensitive information to young children and their families using age appropriate and culturally sensitive methods. With the “Talking About Race at the Smithsonian” pan-institutional effort, SEEC sees this important educational initiative as an opportunity to further its own understanding of the topic of race and how it impacts the children with whom they work.
SEEC teachers, in collaboration with colleagues from the Anacostia Community Museum, the Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies, and National Museum of African American History and Culture, are exploring how young children come to understand the concept of race.Â Over the next few months, several SEEC teachers will focus on what they, asÂ educators, are doing to promote positive self esteem and racial identity for students within their classrooms. Related observation and discussion will inform SEEC's development of a hands-on activity for children and a family guide for parents. The activity will be designed to open opportunities for dialogue, answer questions about the exhibition and encourage new ways for families to talk about race.Â As part of the “Families Talking about Race at the Smithsonian” family programming activities, the related hands-on activity and family guide will be presented to the public on October 22, 2011.