The Wrack

The Wrack is the Wells Reserve blog, our collective logbook on the web.

The Magic of Interpretation

Posted by | February 15, 2018 | Filed under: Program Reports

Last week, seven gifted interpreters from Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine spent four days in Mather Auditorium working towards their Certified Interpretive Guide (CIG) certification through the National Association of Interpretation (NAI). Kate Reichert and I had the pleasure of facilitating their learning over the course of the week.

What is Interpretation?

In our case, when referring to the interpretation of natural, cultural, and historic resources, interpretation is meaning-making. Interpreters don't just provide facts, but instead integrate facts into a story that is relevant to the experiences of visitors to a site. Interpretation aims to deepen visitors' experiences and encourage an understanding, appreciation, and protection of a resource.

Freeman Tilden, the "father of interpretation," defined interpretation back in the 1950s as "the revelation of a larger truth that lies behind any statement of fact." The National Park Service's definition is, "a catalyst in creating opportunities for the audience to form their own intellectual and emotional connections with the meanings and significance inherent in the resource."

Finding Magic

We explored effective interpretation in myriad ways last week, stretching our minds within a rich learning environment, and with no shortage of enthusiastic participation! The four days culminated with 10-minute interpretive presentations by each of the talented workshop participants, and a closing ceremony reciting the "Interpreter's Creed," complete with magic wands in hand. As Larry Beck and Ted Cable, modern "fathers of interpretation" said, "Interpreters promote enriched recreational experiences that turn to magic, where everything comes together, where participants feel unencumbered delight in knowledge and experience—a greater job in living, a better understanding of one's place in the overall scheme, a positive hope for the future."

Many thanks to Kate, Chantelle, Cynde, Lucas, Danielle, Michael, Donne, and Ted for your energy and positivity last week. I look forward to crossing paths with you again soon at one of our sites… where interpretive magic happens!

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