Learning Science in Aquariums and on Whalewatching Boats: The Hidden Curriculum of the Deployment of Other Animals
While once primarily dedicated to the entertainment of the public in Western societies, zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens, and similar facilities now mostly self-identify as informal science or conservation education organizations. Parks and protected areas, within which wildlife-focused tourism often occurs, also identify education as a key part of their mission. Substantial educational research literature examines teaching and learning in such spaces, but largely fails to consider the real lived experiences of animals enrolled in these processes or to interrogate the hidden curriculum that can contradict intended messaging. Drawing on ethnographic research conducted at two sites, a public aquarium in southern California and a national marine park in Quebec that is a popular site for whalewatching, we demonstrate how animals are politically deployed in educational processes when interpreters at “edutainment” sites aim to teach science to the general public in the name of conservation.
KeywordsAquariums Hidden curriculum Informal science education Interspecies education Nature parks
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