Dr. Fernande Raine On Using History and Museums to Incubate Changemakers

fernande raine

This episode of the Getting Smart Podcast is brought to you by The Invention Opportunity

On this episode of the Getting Smart Podcast, Tom sits down with Dr. Fernande Raine, a social entrepreneur who works towards re-imagining how we talk about, teach and use history as well as bringing civics education to the forefront. She currently heads Got history and The Learning Collaborative, two organizations that work to change the way we teach and think about history.

Let’s listen in as Fernande and Tom talk about new approaches to history, democracy and changemaking.

Fernande once said “History is not just a narrative about the past, it has the power to give us agency, empathy, context and community so that we can improve our systems for the future.” She came to this realization after attending high school in Germany before and after Berlin wall fell. “History is the key to how we get to a better place. It is the operating system for how we live.”

Fernande served for 12 years at Ashoka, helping them to launch a presence in Europe. “We’re reaching a time where we recognize the universal dignity/equality and every human being has everything they need to solve problems […] The full realization of democracy is that everyone can be a changemaker.”

Much of what she learned at Ashoka has culminated in Got history, a response to many of the challenges we have faced in our country over the last five years. “How come our collective immune system against demagoguery is broken down in this country?”

Another key element of Got history is addressing the supply chain issue. “Great content exists, but is not getting to the learners […] History is actually about helping young people develop as citizens. The ‘why’ we teach history was off.”

Recently, Fernande created Untextbooked, a history podcast where learners interview historians to bring learning off of the page. “Why don’t we ally with young people and empower their agency.”

Fernande also advocates for a “new approach to history so we can heal and create a democracy.” This can be done through reimagining our origin myths that formed our communities in the past. “These need updating,” she says. “History should be about promoting mindsets and wellbeing, it can be a history of all the things that have changed, advanced, how far we’ve come.”

“Find whatever it is that fuels you. What do you get angry about? Excited about? Hold hope for? Dig in.”

Fernande believes that, at their best, museums are incubators of civic imagination and models/libraries of democracy. Unfortunately, “museums have been sucked into the paradigm of “you need to teach the maximal content.” She also thinks that museums already have the earned community trust, but they need to see young people differently than they have before. “They must make the shift from empty vessels, to this person is an entity with values and dreams. How can you help this young person find what they need so they can thrive?”

On how she keeps learning, Fernande says that she spends her time engaging with engaging people, doing tons of reading and marking up books.

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The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

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