Planning for a learning society : Minnestrista Cultural Center and Oakhurst Gardens in Ball State University's professional development schools network
In a perfect learning society, the whole community-from corporate institutions to family units-recognizes and acts upon its responsibility to nurture and create a total learning environment that should extend throughout the lifetime of each member (Senesh, 1991). In contrast, many efforts to reform education in America focus on only one locus of education, the pre/K- 12 school Fortunately, however, some current reforms are broadening their scope. One such example is found in Ball State University's Professional Development Schools Network, which has enlarged the focus of educational renewal by including a museum as one of its official network sites. This two-part museum, Minnetrista Cultural Center and Oakhurst Gardens, brings community partnership to the focus, incrementally enlarging educational environments and experiences beyond the school classroom and toward the ideals of a learning society.The purpose of this study was to describe and understand more fully the conception, planning, and initial implementation stages of this atypical Professional Development Schools (PDS) site, Minnetrista Cultural Center and Oakhurst Gardens. This case study drew from and contributes to the literature in three areas: (a) professional development schools, (b) community education and learning societies, and (c) program planning. Data collection consisted of 23 separate interviews with 12 participants, multiple observations, and extensive document review. Data were then processed through constant comparative analysis. Findings describe more fully this particular case, detailing the conception, planning, and initial implementation of the museum's partnership with the traditional schools (university and pre/K-12) in its community.Three conclusions were derived from the major findings. First, in the conception and planning phases, relationships among individuals were of great consequence in creating and developing Minnetrista Cultural Center and Oakhurst Gardens as a PDS site. Second, in the initial implementation phase of the museum's PDS program, the museum staff struggled to define and communicate the museum's role as a PDS site. Third, these insights, among others, have implications for PDS networks and potential non-traditional PDS sites, museums interested in their educational role, and those interested in nurturing a learning society.