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Jun 22, 2016 Commentary
The Cheshire explainer. Musings about the training of explainers

by Antonio Gomes da Costa

The profession of explainer is still pretty much undefined and underrated and the training of explainers is many times deemed to be a luxury. In the following pages we make the argument that three main factors contribute to this state of affairs and, at the same time, we try to show why the training of explainers should really be at the core of any science communication institution. These factors are: an erroneous perception of what a proper scientific training means for explainers; a lack of clear definition of the aptitudes and role of explainers required by institutions that are evolving and diversifying their missions; and an organizational model based on top-down practices of management and activity development which underappreciates the potential of the personnel working directly with the public.

Volume 15 • Issue 04 • 2016

Dec 21, 2005 Commentary
Should explainers explain?

by Antonio Gomes da Costa

One of the most common, and probably one of the crucial questions about science centers and interactive exhibitions is often phrased as “Ok, it’s fun, but do they learn anything?”. What follows is not an attempt to answer this question; we will just use it as a starting point for a discussion about the role of explainers in science centers. Explainers are usually very motivated people, possessing a genuine interest in science and technology and a scientific background they are eager to share. And they feel everyone else should be as enthusiastic about science as they are. This is a legitimate aspiration, of course, but how exactly does one try to achieve this goal? What is the explainer’s role? Quite often, the answer to the question “…but do they learn anything?” is: “Yes, if we teach them”. It is simple, straightforward, probably it works to some extent, and this is the reasoning that makes explainers become… well, explainers. And this should be avoided.

Volume 4 • Issue 04 • 2005