Didactics and the National Trust

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates

I've been leafing through the NT's Autumn magazine and turned to the article by Simon Murray, the Senior Director of Everything with particular interest.  Actually Murray is only i/c Strategy, Curatorship, Visitor Experience, and External Affairs, but you do wonder what else there is for others to do.  Anyway, he's obviously a busy bloke, so we should be grateful that he's found the time to commit his thoughts to paper.  And what thoughts they are.  There's a big block of bold text in the middle of the article which runs:

The vision is for a programme that inspires you to take something from your visit that will make a difference."

This, it turns out, is not an encouragement of petty theft or grand larceny, both of which are routinely possible at NT houses.  Rather, it's all about learning outcomes which it seems are central to its new 10-year strategy (Playing our part).  Murray says: "We want to create experiences for our visitors that move, teach and inspire them."  I've a terrible thought that compulsory learning objectives cannot be far behind – and we'll probably encounter them in a tent strategically placed between the car park and the first raffle ticket sellers.

The purpose behind all this becomes clear as you read on.  It is to help the Trust address the "current crisis in the historic and the natural environment" through the Playing our part strategy so that visitors who've been taught, moved and inspired, will then go away and do something to make a difference to make the world a bit of a better place.

Having poked some fun at the earnestness of all this, I should say that I like the idea of helping people get more out of visits, and that more of us, and more frequently, should do something positive in the world, as far as we can.  I fear it will have to be handled gently, however, as quite a lot of visitors obviously go to NT properties for a nice day out and a cream tea.  But the Trust knows that.

I'll say more about what Murray writes about the countryside in another post, as this he says  "is more difficult."  Indeed it is!


Posted in: Comment, News and Updates


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