For Education Students, Pittsburgh Abounds with Opportunities to Explore Teaching Methods Tuesday, October 19, 2021
"Having access to these cultural institutions enriches my college experience as an education major, because I have the opportunity to see firsthand how children can express their creativity while learning basic concepts in complex subjects without even realizing it."
Elizabeth Schrim's favorite exhibit at the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh has always been the waterplay exhibit.
Schrim '24, a 4th-8th grade English education major and Avonworth High School alumna, loved splashing about in the hands-on aquatic playground when she was younger, but her most recent visit to the museum was more than just child's play.
With Point Park University's campus centrally located in Downtown Pittsburgh, School of Education students can access a vast selection of world-class arts and culture institutions to explore a wide range of teaching methods. Christal Edmunds, Ph.D., professor of education, incorporates such destinations into her coursework and has long-standing relationships with the Children's Museum, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Children's Theater and the Senator John Heinz History Museum, the Smithsonian Institution's home in Pittsburgh.
"Such experiences enrich my learning and training as an education student because it gives me the ability to see future resources I can use for my students," Schrim said. "I can learn how to better incorporate arts into their studies, as well as possible field trips."
At the Children's Museum, students received a guided tour, courtesy of the museum's Educational Outreach Department, and enjoyed several hours of independent exploration. They played with puppetry in the multimedia art studio and marveled at the museum's MAKESHOP®, a colorful maker space with a bounty of materials. They were transported into the hit animated movie, "Inside Out," in the "Emotions at Play" exhibit, created in partnership with Pixar Animation Studios. Students worked in groups to complete a scavenger hunt, which encouraged them to explore the museum to the fullest.
"These cultural experiences are high quality, exemplifying best practices as defined by the early education literature," Edmunds said. "Each provides developmentally appropriate experiences for our students to learn from and eventually take into their future classrooms. The Children’s Museum and the Heinz History Museum are both known nationally for developing interactive exhibits and exceptional curriculum development. The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has many yearly productions of children’s theater coupled with school programming."
The Children's Museum field trip opened Kaitlyn Caiarelli's eyes to how much her future students can learn outside of the classroom. The Steel Valley High School alumna is majoring in early childhood education and special education.
"I personally like going to a school in Downtown Pittsburgh because of the opportunities that we have like this that are so close to campus," Caiarelli '24 said. "Having access to these cultural institutions enriches my college experience as an education major because I have the opportunity to see firsthand how children can express their creativity while learning basic concepts in complex subjects without even realizing it."
Edmunds took a class to the Heinz History Center earlier this semester, where students explored interactive exhibits about local history, taking away creative ideas for how they will present material to their future students.
"Kids learn a lot of things but don't necessarily understand why they're learning it," said Anna Cannavo '23, an elementary education and dance major and Freedom High School alumna. "Seeing it in the local context can give it more meaning for them."
In addition to working with cultural institutions, Edmunds has developed partnerships with a variety of schools and educational organizations during her 31 years at Point Park, which make for meaningful field experiences for students. They include:
- Carriage House Children's Center of Pittsburgh
- Sarah Heinz House
- Mercy Health Systems and Pittsburgh Public Schools' Dancing Classrooms
- Mt. Lebanon Extended Day Program
- Riverview Children's Center
- The Cyert Center for Early Learning
- The Waldorf School of Pittsburgh
- Mt. Lebanon Montessori Academy
"Pittsburgh has a unique educational ecosystem in that we have institutions representing the four major models of early childhood education here: Montessori, Waldorf, High Scope and Reggio Emilia," Edmunds said. "My students have the distinctive opportunity to learn about and experience each."
Learn more about Edmunds' teaching style in the video below:
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