mutually determined by educators and the communities and cultural groups they serve. Second, the cultural variability of social structures should be reflected in educational design. For example, developing peer networks may be particularly important to foster sustained participation of nondominant groups. Designed spaces that serve families should include consideration of visits by extended families.

Things to Try

To apply the ideas presented in this chapter to informal settings, consider the following:

  • Think about how to design environments and materials that are compatible with different cultural groups you are serving. For example, would it be helpful to design an exhibition or a program for one specific group, or would incorporating cultural icons into an existing exhibition be more effective in your setting? Would adding multilingual labels be useful for your multiple audiences? Would programs in other languages be important to offer? Would it be useful to involve bi- or multilingual interpreters or docents?

  • Explore and nurture partnerships with local communities. Determine which groups you want to work with and then invite representatives from these groups to partner with you to define goals and serve as advisers throughout the project. Cooperate or collaborate early to ensure true partnership on equal grounds. Allow yourself to question cultural assumptions.

  • Learn more about the cultural ramifications of learning. Invite a local expert in this field to come to your venue to discuss how culture affects the work being done there. What do you need to learn about visitors to your setting? How can you make your environment more culturally relevant? Contact colleagues in your field who may already have garnered considerable expertise.

  • Be informed about and coordinate approaches with neighboring venues. Contact nearby informal science learning environments to discuss their strategies for working with different members of the community. Can you work together to develop a joint program or activity that will be particularly meaningful to the different groups you are trying to serve?



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