Arete Students Visit Shattuck Middle School to Present a Living Museum

Will Ranger, Student of Journalism

NHS’s Arete Academy visited Shattuck Middle School on Nov. 3 to present a Living Museum, an event that sought to inform students about the history of countries around the world.

“We were there to provide a different learning experience to (the middle schoolers),” freshman Kylie Kempen, an Arete student, spoke as to why Arete put on this event.

The event showcased 11 different countries from around the world: Japan, Spain, Russia, Greece, England, India, China, Egypt, Italy, France and Germany. Each of which were represented by a group of students who acted as important figures from the country they were representing. 

On the day of the event, Arete students left NHS ladened with the supplies to construct a learning experience like no other for the students of Shattuck. Once they arrived, the groups occupied the cafeteria of the building, setting up tables to prepare for the onslaught of incoming rowdy students. Finally, the students arrived. 

When interested students approach a table, each group delivered a short presentation that had been rigorously planned for over two months. These presentations outlined important facts about the country they were representing as well as information about the historical figure each group member was representing. These presentations included aspects not found in a typical lecture; items such as candy, dioramas, and musical soundtracks were created for the lessons to be more interesting and interactive.

According to QA Education Magazine, this type of teaching enhances a student’s interest and understanding of the material. This technique, however, did not come without its challenges and problems as many students voiced their encounters with unforeseen issues during the event.

“A lot of us had candy which was one of the only foods we could give out. A lot of the kids just wanted the candy. So one of the obstacles was having to find a reason for kids to listen to the presentation to get the candy,” freshmen Ella Smedema reflected.

“When you’re dealing with middle schoolers they’re such a broad range, so it’s really hard to figure out a learning experience that suits each of them,” freshmen Annika Searles commented on this issue.

“One kid bribed one of my group members with $10 for a stack of trading cards,” added sophomore Connor Swokowski.

Despite these issues, the event was a success not only from what the middle schoolers learned from this occasion, but what the Arete students learned about each other and themselves. Many of these students collectively reflected on this after the event.

“We learned that it’s not always great to work with your friends, it was a lot of learning how to communicate with other people,” Ella Smedema said.

 “Our project suffered a lot because we were in a group with our friends, for a lot of the project I didn’t want to be a control freak, something that made our project suffer in the long run,” Connor Swokowski added.

This reflection and learning allowed these students to improve their skills of collaboration and communication, something that Cornell University reports that allows for the “development of higher-level thinking, oral communication, self-management and leadership skills.”

Arete students and staff look forward to the next Living Museum, and they hope that it will provide the same learning opportunities and experiences for both the students of Arete and the students of Shattuck Middle School.