A Unified Theory of Parents

Parents are difficult.

Aside from such unsavory activities as enforcing bedtimes and denying us the pleasures of ice cream before dinner, they also are devilishly difficult to get involved in the Children’s Museum. A primary goal of Aristeia is to facilitate co-equal exploration by whole families, rather than just kids. A logical place to start is knowing the guest.

And this is where the difficulty comes in. Adults are a rather varied lot, and while the MAKESHOP staff had some good insights to share with us, we realized that we had no systematic language to describe the behaviors of all the various adults. This week, we solidified a working theory of parents for us to validate and tweak over future observation sessions.

We divide parents (and this works for all guests, actually) by three categories: are they engaged, are they courageous, and are they lateral, out-of-the-box thinkers? Our jargony term for this last one is “descriptivist” explorers, meaning they don’t assume that the obvious use for a tool or material is the only one.AristeiaMuseumVisitorModel-01

This system has generated excitement on the client side. A major goal for the project was having a framework for defining and reacting to guest needs when designing or modifying spaces, and this may prove to be just the thing for that. We’re going to spend the next few weeks refining and proving the model, so that anyone can use it.



  • Written by Antonin Fusco