Return to Curiosity: Privileging Wonder over Rationalism in Museum Displays and Learning

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The ancient Greek sense of wonder, understood as a dwelling in the everyday, has changed over time. Wonder in this sense was initially understood as a form of thought or meditation on the unknown and an acceptance of a state of not-knowing. Over the millennia, wonder has moved closer in meaning to curiosity and amazement and into the sphere of the rational. Shadowed by a sense that all knowledge is now possible, mystery and concepts of the unknowable have ceased to exist. This relatively modern loss of wonder can be seen in the history of the museum and its transition from the Cabinets of Curiosities (or Wunderkammer) of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, to the birth of the modern museum at the end of the eighteenth century. In…show more content…
Plants, animals and minerals endowed with important magical or symbolic functions were allocated to museums of natural history, paintings and sculptures to museums of fine arts, armour and weaponry to military museums and textiles and crockery to museums of decorative arts. (Martin, 2012) Education Ken Robinson argues that the current system of education was designed and conceived for a very different age in the culture of the Enlightenment. The development of the education system was driven by the economic imperatives of the time and shaped by an Enlightenment model of the mind which favoured deductive reasoning. That is, it favoured academic ability over other forms of intelligence. This has led to the development of an education system based on a production line mentality, in which learning is standardised and centred on finding the right answers within relatively narrow subject fields. While this has served some well, it does not prepare children for the pace of change in the modern world. He argues that aesthetic experience – the state when senses are operating at their peak - is a victim of this mentality, depriving children of the opportunity to explore their full potential. He argues for the development of divergent thinking, an essential

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