Docent Training

Wow, gang! Sorry I missed posting on Monday. It’s been super busy this week at the Whaley House, topped off by a very early morning appearance at a local organization. Yes, I do public appearances. Just have your people contact my…well, me! Actually, getting out into the community by participating in local events, appearing as a speaker at various organization meetings, and even posting in this blog are one of my favorite things about this job. So, don’t hesitate to call!

In addition to this, I’m knee deep in docent training. What’s that? You don’t know what a docent is? Well, let me tell you!

Merriam-Webster defines a docent as “a person who leads guided tours, especially through a museum or gallery” or as a “college or university teacher or lecturer.” Now, I am, of course using the museum tour guide definition here. It isn’t very common in the United States to call a college professor a docent, but I can tell you why it’s common in Europe. The word docent comes from the Latin verb docere, which means “to teach or to lecture.” The present active participle of docere is docens, hence docent in English. Many languages, particularly Romance Languages which derive from Latin, use the word today to describe someone who acts as a guide or educator at an institution. In the United States we have taken docent to mean a museum guide (mostly). So, there’s your linguistics lesson for the day.

But, back to the Whaley House!

We are currently testing out our first docent training program, necessitated by the new volunteers at the House and their eagerness to give tours. This will also help to standardize the central message of the tours we currently give. All in all it’s a great learning experience for all parties involved and I can’t wait to use feedback from those currently in the program to improve it in the future!


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