Tour Guide: Entertainer or Teacher

26 Aug

Entertainer. Teacher. Tour guide. The same? Completely different? Three in one, the Sacred Mystery of the Museum.

I was told once by a director of tour guides in another museum that a tour guide at least the ones in his museum were seen more as entertainers.

I considered that fairly degrading.

They were not like teachers with their set of objectives and their curriculum. The tour guide was to paint a picture as they guided the group through the exhibits, creating in their minds a clear picture of the past, stirring their interests and inspiring their imagination.

Now, as I sit down and think about what he said, I have to ask myself if the tour guide is not a combination of teacher and entertainer, more teacher than the later.

For both have objectives, conveying the message of the art, the subject to their audience or class, inspiring some memory creating a touch of change in their minds and hearts. Both have a plan of some sort, be it a fifty page long curriculum or a fifty page long script.

Perhaps, I simply found it degrading to refer to someone who had the mission to convey the past of a courageous group of soldiers, many who gave their lives for family, friends, beliefs and country, as an entertainer, someone you have at parties and other functions. Talking about Howard C. Gilmore’s (see picture) sacrifice atop of USS Growler (SS-215) where he uttered the famous phrase “Take her down,” ending his own life to save his crew, is not something you throw around like it’s a toy, a party favor or such. Depth charging stories, the sheer terror, the memories and stories of war can be outright depressing and deserve a certain place of reverence. To view our stories are knowledge as entertaining, to work as entertainers, would be on par with rigging a Crucifix with fire and turning the story of Jesus Christ into a happy musical in every single Catholic Church all around the world.

War is not entertaining, it is a tragedy. Common sense, mercy, kindness are thrown aside, sometimes due to incompetence on the part of statesmen, sometimes due to terribly illogical dreams such as those of Hitler, Mussolini, and Emperor Hirohito and his generals. War is a tragedy and those who gave their lives for their country do not deserve to be treated like silly, happy party favors, but as the heroes they died as. They deserve silence, reverence and, above all, a place in our memory.

A good tour guide, however, is, whether I like it or not, both. They are a teacher and will always be teachers; they will research their topics and dig some more, they will organize and constantly redo their tours in their minds until they feel they have conveyed the story they want to tell. We do it not to please people, but for those who have fallen so that we may enjoy our liberty.

But, we will entertain, we will inspire, we will do so because of our passion. Without even knowing it, as we concentrate on our more scientific, more technical approach to our tours, inspire and amaze our guests, most of them, entertain them without even trying.

That’s it, really!

We are entertaining teachers!

We work like teachers, but we entertain without even trying!

What’s your opinion?

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