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Where was your first time?

16 March 2012
The old MAAS via “Wikimedia Commons”Sydney TAFE building, Ultimo

Where was your first time? In a car? In the bush, by a trickling creek or under a tree? Or out under the night sky?

My first time, the first time I realised I was actually learning something, that is, was in a museum – the old Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, in fact, and I think I was seven. As I manipulated the simple interactive, which demonstrated how much light was needed to read a page clearly, I realised 2 things: I was at that moment finding out something new – I could feel my brain shifting to take in this new view of the world – and, also, I was quite short-sighted: I needed a lot more light than the classmates before and after me.

I can remember learning things in my actual classroom, but it has always seemed to me that the excursion (to the beach, the art gallery, the neighbourhood architecture, the heritage village) and the incursion (the van of teenage troubadours, the guy from the snake farm, the local veterans) were the times when learning was guaranteed to happen, when attention was assured. That we were in for exciting times.

Now, even while another Sydney museum is closed, it is open to students for digital excursions (Sydney Morning Herald, 12 March 2012). The students still feel they have gone ‘to the MCA today’, even though they have been in their classroom on the whiteboard the whole time. The experience of the learning space, especially your first time, is very strong.

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