Sparking the flame, not filling the vessel: How museum educators teach history in Australian museums

Louise Fortunata Zarmati


This paper presents some results of research undertaken in nine Australian history museums during 2010 and 2011 on the work of museum educators. The research demonstrated that museum educators use the signature pedagogy of historical inquiry to actively teach history to students. This contradicts the dominant discourse of museum education research which focuses almost entirely on constructivist learning in museums. Findings in this paper may be of interest to museum and heritage educators, classroom history teachers, pre-service history educators and museum and heritage researchers. The case studies offer cultural institutions examples of how historical inquiry can be used to teach history in museums and heritage sites.


history, historical inquiry, pedagogy, constructivism, museums, formal learning.

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