Docent

From Academic Kids

A docent (the word being derived from the Latin word docere, meaning to teach) is officially defined as a professor or university lecturer, but the term has been expanded to designate the corps of volunteer guides who staff many of the museums and other educational institutions in the United States. Docents are educators, trained to further the public's understanding of the cultural and historical collections of the institution. In many cases, docents, in addition to their prescribed function as guides, also conduct research utilizing the institution's facilities. Docent positions, particularly at renowned institutions, are highly coveted as such positions are rarely available.

Prospective docents generally undergo an intensive training process, at the expense of the educational institution, which teaches them good communicative and interpretive skills, as well as introduces them to the institution's collection and its historical significance. They are also provided with reading lists to add to the basic information provided during training, and must then shadow experienced docents as they give their tours before ultimately conducting a tour on their own. Docents are kept up-to-date with continuous training and seminars.

Docents can be found at many institutions, including local and national museums, zoos, historical landmarks, and parks.

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