This Week in History: Royal BC Museum Learning Labs

The Royal BC Museum’s mandate is to broaden understanding about our province, and inspire curiosity and wonder.
One of the many ways it does that is through a unique school program called Learning Labs.

Grade five and six students from Selkirk Montessori in Victoria arrive at the Royal BC Museum for a Learning Lab.

And while the Museum offers educational programs for all ages, Learning Labs are for students from grade three to grade twelve.

Chris O’Connor, from the Learning Department of the Royal BC Museum, explains that “we work really closely with classes, educators, students, to do a deep dive into different types of topics and big ideas here at the Museum.”

Today’s Lab focuses on the First Peoples Governance program.

Leslie McGarry is the Elder and Youth Coordinator from the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres.

“This program” says McGarry “is designed to give children a chance to see what First Nation Governance looked like prior to contact with European Culture. It also showcases what happened after contact. We call that ‘Post Contact’.”

McGarry elaborates that the students “get to learn a little bit about Agreement, and Promise, and Elders, and Culture, so it’s a really wonderful program.

“I’m really proud to be a part of it” she adds.

Grace, a grade six student at Selkirk Montessori, is pleased to attend this Learning Lab. “I’ve always been interested in government and First Nations, so I was definitely excited to do this program.”

Teacher Shannon Paddon explains that learning First Nation history “has become a very big part of our curriculum, which is amazing, and we are always looking for different ways to have speakers come into our school, or for us to go out into the community and learn first hand.”

Griffin, a grade five student was part of “the group that was ‘culture,’ and we found out a lot of cool things, like their clothing and stuff like that.”

Learning Labs run anywhere from two hours to a full day, and are modified to suit the age of the students.

“The information gets a little more intense as we get to the higher grades” says McGarry, “and we try as much as possible to enhance the curriculum they’re already working with.”

O’Connor adds that “our focus on student-led learning and inquiry really aligns well with the new curriculum, and the ways educators are approaching learning within their classrooms.”

Learning Labs are just one more way the Royal BC Museum strives to share our province’s rich history.