Docents providing guided experiences for school groups will meet with greater numbers of minority students in the future. According to The New York Times (September 13, 1991, A 8), . . the increasing racial and ethnic diversity of the United States is being reflected by dramatic increases in the number of Hispanic and non-white students in the nation’s classrooms, so that by 1995 one third of American public school students will be from minorities.” The two-year study conducted by the College Board and the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, made the following projections for 1994-95 in comparison to 1984-85 figures:
- African-American students will remain the second-largest racial or ethnic group in the public schools, behind whites, but are expected to increase by 13%;
- American Indians and Alaskan natives enrolled in schools are expected to remain the smallest group, but to increase by 29%;
- Asians and Pacific Islanders are expected to increase by 70% to about 1.6 million students; Hispanic enrollment is anticipated to increase by 54%, to an estimated 5.1 million; and white, non-Hispanic students will increase by 1.2 million, but will drop to 66% of the total enrollment from 71% in 1985.
The Silent Communicator
Julius Fast reminds us in his book. Body Language (Simon & Schuster, 1970), that we are constantly sending emotional messages by the manner in which we hold and move our bodies.
Realizing this, docents may choose to use their body placement to reinforce specific, subliminal messages. For instance, by occasionally turning around and standing with a tour group (instead of always being in front of one), docents can communicate an interest in looking and learning along with their visitors. At the same time, this sends the message that one can continue to delight in, and benefit from, repeated viewings of even the most familiar aspects of an institution’s collection.
If you know of an outstanding history program in a museum, historic site, school, or other organization, consider nominating the group or individual responsible for an award from the American Association for State and Local History. Nominations consist of a one-page form and supporting materials, submitted by April 1, 1992. For further information, contact: Susan Miner AASLH Award Committee Wichita-Sedgwick Co. Historical Museum 204 S. Main Wichita, KS 67202
“For Your Consideration,” The Docent Educator 1.2 (Winter 1991): 11.