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Re: Where we learn

After many really stimulating and thoughtful communications on this topic, I
think Larry has arrived at the center of this issue of the role of
commercialization and the museum. He states that kids ( and adults ) must
have sources they can rely upon for information about the world. Dinogeorge
says that " whatever learning I did went on >outside< the classroom: in
>>doing<< homework assignments, in visiting the library, in voracious
reading." I agree. But I would like to add "museum"  to that list. My museums
( I was lucky enough to have several in Minneapolis) were churches for me.In
fact, Sunday was the day you would talk a parent or neighbor into going to
some weekend program. As a child ( or as a naive adult ) you DO rely upon
them for the truth.  What are you doing when you knowingly mount an
inaccurate exhibit IN A MUSEUM?   There are other arenas for entertainment
and speculation. There was just a big dino show down at the mall. There are
very socially complex and delicate issues that we deal with in paleontology
vis-a-vis the evolution vs. creation issues. An institution like the American
Museum of Natural History should really think long and hard about these
topics as well should the Dinosaur Society. In fact the Dinosaur Society,
much to its credit, has done a lot of soul searching and reevaluation along
some very difficult lines in the recent past. Above all we have to trust our
institutions. If kids ( or adults) smell the slightest sign of a friendly arm
around a lie, it will take forever to reinstate their trust. Henry Fairfield
Osborn, W.D.Matthew, William King Gregory, Charles R. Knight, Edwin
H.Colbert, Barnum Brown, and many, many others dedicated their lives to
giving us only the very best and, what they thought, the most truthful
answers they could give us. Anything less offered to our children would be,at
the very least, an affront to their names and work.

During this series of very thoughtful exchanges, I have often been haunted by
the ghostly images of the above-mentioned men at the exhibit sometime after
midnight at the AMNH and what their reactions might be. I have a feeling that
even Roy Chapman Andrews might have shaken his head before he climbed into
his 1922 Dodge and sped away to those Flaming Cliffs in the sky...

This has been fun and useful, Thanks All, Dan Varner.