Creating Life long Lessons for a Human Rights Culture
The knowledge hunt as a learning tool
The Robben Island Museum (RIM) Knowledge Hunt (KH) is an interactive educational tour that ensures the integration of both the cultural and environmental aspects of the site as part of the learning experience to ensure conservation awareness. One of the learning theories currently being used in schools and by museum educators is Constructivism Learning Theory. This theory is built on the premise that learners not only construct knowledge for themselves, but that each learner constructs meaning both individually and collectively (Hein, 1994). Some areas of this theory overlap with elements of Tilden’s principles as adapted by John Ververka and is ideally suited to the notion of the Knowledge Hunt.
Educators develop the situation for students to explain, select a process of groupings of materials and learners, build a bridge between what students already know and what they want them to learn, anticipate questions to ask
an answer without giving away an explanation, encourage students to exhibit a record of their thinking by sharing it with others and solicit students’ reflections about their learning.
Objectives of the knowledge Hunt
- to have fun whilst learning
- to move the understanding of Robben Island’s legacy beyond the obvious or better known - prison period, beyond the initial emotional reactions to becoming synthesized and to catalyse a mind shift and positive behavioural change
- to provide learners with a more in-depth learning engagement of Robben Island Museum (RIM) by learning through discovery and creative expression. In this way learners experience the legacy of RI and the workings/dilemmas of managing a world heritage site
- to develop conscious young Heritage Activists that appreciate and understand the value of heritage in their lives and the understanding of how heritage can be used positively in their lives
- the Knowledge Hunt/specialised RIM tour experience offers an opportunity to integrate heritage education and environmental education – two fields that have developed independently of each other. Similarly, the disengagement between tangible and intangible heritage is challenged as learners are encouraged to “see” beyond what is physically there through written or spoken word, images from the past and memory landscapes through extracts from political prisoner/warder/WWII veteran oral history interviews
- RI and its legacy presents an opportunity to create exciting, dynamic youth programmes that mirror learning methodologies similar to those used by political prisoners, such as; collective learning and leadership, debate and critical analysis, acknowledging each persons intellectual value and worth
- Experiential learning using various resources; archival materials, physical landscape, oral histories and so forth
An interactive learning experience is facilitated rather than led by an appointed participant. The careful selection of material to maximize the participants’ responsibility to facilitate their own learning means that dependence on facilitator expert knowledge is minimized. The structure of the KH is such that it can be adapted to fit specific audience needs by adapting themes, language, learning needs and objectives.
Participants are divided into teams with a RIM facilitator; each team receives a Knowledge Hunt pack (that covers the layered history of the Island as well as the key interpretive themes of the Integrated Conservation Management Plan) with tasks that they have to complete over 3 days. Each participant receives an opportunity to lead the group from one site to another and does so in consultation with the group. The leader needs to facilitate the discussion on what is known by the group and how they will proceed. The RIM facilitator is merely there to ensure that the learners do not break any of the Conservation Principles of RIM & World Heritage Site.
As all the learners don’t visit the same sites the debrief of the KH facilitate the practice of “each one teach one” and is a powerful tool of interpretation, because learners are encouraged to engage and share their insights with each other collectively through the use of poetry writing/spoken word, visual arts, music and drama.
We have found that the learners are able to interpret the information that they have gathered into creative report back sessions that engage and stimulate their peers. Spoken word, drama, and song are just some of the wide variety of activities that they use to share their knowledge with each other. The principles of “each one, teach one” a legacy of the Maximum Security Prison is practiced and builds their understanding of the Island in a way that a tour of the Island would not have done.
The KH has led the Education Department to a different way of looking at the crafting of learning experiences and has added value to the experiences of young people on the island.
In the words of the Young Leaders Academy (YLA) KH facilitators:
What do you think of the Knowledge Hunt as a concept/learning tool?
Lucky Bogatsu (Spring School 2004)
“It took me a while to get used to it at first I didn’t even like the idea but as we were doing the tasks I realised it is actually an effective way of dealing with the information interactively and it forces you to interact with the environment its more student independent and even though you rely on the facilitator the student have to discover the information for themselves and creates a lively element”
Karolien Schade (Spring School 2004)
“I did not get a chance to do the knowledge hunt when I came here the 1st time I got a bus tour and I had to sit through a lecture and I was only 16 years old and I had to sit there for two hours. Physical experience is more memorable than speeches especially as a 1st impression of heritage and its importance. It teaches you to be independent and to think independently and if you leave stupid it is your own fault...”
Mpho Makgata (June 16, 2005)
“The KH puts the learner in a position of exploring and interacting with the tangible objects (e.g. Maximum Security Prison) of the island’s history. It puts the learner in the historical space wherein the learner can relive the history and easily relate historical literature/teachings with the space in which that history occurred. The emotions expressed during the KH puts the learners in the Ex Political Prisoner’s shoes. As a result the learner becomes conscious that our democracy didn’t come that easy and should be embraced, this also instils a sense of responsibility in the learners. The KH is the core tools of narrating history on RI”
Thulaganyo ‘Thuli’ Khumalo (June 16, 2005)
“I think that it is a more hands on approach as the learner’s are able to touch/feel/see the historical artefact. Learners are able to relate their own personal experience to that of the EPPs. The hunt itself promotes the 5 objective in that the learners get to be more informed about conserving memories , it promotes research as they have to look for information and directions to different sites themselves, when they finally find the site, information that has been found is interpreted in different ways. Learners are given tasks activities whereby they would include their own input and then present their tasks in a creative manner. The KH in all its capacity promotes the fact that there is a story behind every site”
Boitumelo ‘Tumi2’ Dikgole (Spring School 2005)
“I really do think and believe that the knowledge hunt is a very important”. I also think that it helps to inform the youth more about their past and make them realise and appreciate their history more as some of them tend to forget their past. The tasks that are given to the learners are important as they make them get more involved and share personal feelings. Last but not least, this KH makes the youth realise that knowing your history is important. “HISTORY IS THERE FOR US TO LEARN IN THE PRESENT MOMENT IN ORDER FOR US NOT TO REPEAT IT WHEN TIME GOES BY” THANX BYE
Vilho Absalom Spring School 2007 – Namibian Participant
“It’s a key that open the mind of today’s youth: it enables the youth on how to become researchers of their own. It’s a way that encourage dependence and reliability amongst youth. It gives youth a chance of exploring hidden information by themselves and this prepares us to become good leaders of tomorrow.”
Nolwazi Ngubeni Spring School 2007
“We think that the KH is a great way to learn about the island. Because in a way you experience it yourself and get to know much more about it. Rather than having someone tell you about it because you loose your concentrate and end up learning nothing. It is much better because it is an exciting way to learn about the important events…It is more interesting when you get to see the things than pictures. It also help in promoting leadership skills.”
Lebo Madiseng Spring School 2006 & 2007
“Knowledge hunts also contributes a lot to scholars because they had to think analytically and critically so they get challenged into thinking creatively. It enables them to see the bigger picture about Robben Island, the nature including vegetation and wild life.”