By RACHAEL TOLLIVER
U.S. Army Cadet Command
It’s only fitting that one of the nation’s premier schools of leadership—U.S. Army Cadet Command’s Reserve Officer Training Corps program—has access to a library and museum of the same quality.
Along with the reopening of the Patton Museum June 14, the changes soon to be made in ROTC curriculum places both organizations on a path toward a relationship that far exceeds weaponry, and old education models of static learning.
“One aspect of Gen. George S. Patton’s legacy has been memorialized at Fort Knox for decades—his contribution to the U.S. Army’s Armor Branch,” explained Col. Louis Win-gate, Cadet Command’s deputy chief of staff, G-3. “But his legacy to Army leadership was just as important, and through the evolution of this aspect of the museum our future leaders will be able to learn from his successes and his failures and how his leadership decisions affected the history we read about and the world in which we now live.”
According to Dr. Richard Swain, Cadet Command’s dean of academics, changing static learning models is important because individuals learn differently, so using several different modalities is a better way to encourage learning.
“Each individual learns differently and a multi-faceted approach works best so a museum using the latest technology provides all these learning approaches,” Swain explained.
“As Cadet Command elevates our ROTC curriculum, training and leader-development, the establishment of the Patton Museum of Leadership—with its new dynamic cross-learning approach—is a welcome addition to the assets we will have available,“ Wingate added.
Swain further explained that the museum has exhibits based in what is called “discovery learning,” which provide kinesthetic learning opportunities—or opportunities to learn by doing and touching. He said many museums provide audio and visual learners extensive stimulation, expanding from the traditional way of strolling through a museum and reading a plaque.
“For example, the Patton Museum will have an augmented reality exhibit –it is an educational game about going after (a German POW camp),” Swain added. “You are given a situation, an order and talking about what you are going to do—rescue of Patton’s son. Anyone who goes to the museum would be able to engage in it. The person can have an experience in a gaming methodology to gain a better appreciation.”
Interactive games are important because as people learn critical thinking skills, the do’s and don’ts of leadership, strategy and the consequences of what each action has—they are practicing those theories and written lessons in a different environment enabling the learning process.
The museum will also well have Quick Response Codes associated with different displays. Swain said a visitor can point a cell phone with a QR app at the tag, and they can read all about “…the rest of the story. Then you have more info on that leader, that exhibit, that situation.”
As the museum has tapped into discovery learning via technology with QR Codes and augmented reality games, ROTC is embracing technology and “discovery learning” starting with curriculum in e-reader form. In this way cadets don’t have to pay book fees, carry heavy stacks of books around, and can do an immediate online search for extra material related to the subject they are studying.
“Using that type of technology makes it more interactive and more ‘discovery learning’ so you involve the individual in more,” Swain added. “The museum has value in itself and the value of the artifacts that are there. But this is really about the learning.”
When the museum opens June 14, not only will it have a generic QR Code on its website to allow visitors to download iPhone and Android Patton apps, it will have informational brochures available with QR Codes and instructions on how to access and download the app. Additionally, the museum will feature an interactive historical “decision-making wargame,” available on the Apple App Store and Google Play.
Patton Museum Director Christopher Kolakowski, said while there are more than 60 Army museums, this one is unique in that it specifically address leadership.
“Others tell stories of leaders as part of their storylines, but we are the only one who does it expressly to teach leadership concepts.”
“It is critical to have a museum about leadership located at the ROTCs command, dealing with leadership,” he explained. “ROTC commissions 70 percent of the Army’s officers each year, and having a museum and leadership center that can play a role in their education and development is huge. What we do benefits the Army over the long term.”
An additional tool that the museum provides toward education and research is the Davis Memorial Library. Swain said that this library now includes everything that was in the Army Management Staff College’s staff library, which was a leadership library. His expectation is that people who want to write and perform research can visit the library and access primary sources of information—which is important for researching and writing.
Kolakowski noted that while the Davis Library is not currently a lending library, there are plans to provide online access where the library is available for public research, the command and its students and partners.
“The reason the Davis Memorial Library is significant is because we now have one of the most diverse collections in leadership, ranging from books, to DVDs, to audio and interactive audio,” Wingate said. “And our material spans subjects from “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” to primary source information on historical leaders—resources that are available to the public.”
But the museum plans on being a multi-purpose leadership museum where exhibits aren’t the only thing in which visitors may participate. In addition to the library, Kolakowski said there are plans, though nothing firm yet, to use, “the museum and Patton Center of Leadership as a vehicle, because we want to bring in conferences and events of this type to support our education and outreach missions.”
And Swain hopes that as ROTC cadre, professor of military science instructors, and senior military instructors come to Fort Knox for their training, the museum will schedule and host local staff rides—another “discovery learning” tool—to destinations such as Perryville, site of a famous Civil War battle.
“In the Army, we have to appreciate the ground, and the only way to get that know-ledge and appreciation is through a very well done staff ride,” Swain explained. “Since we have been at war for over a decade, we need to reinvigorate that skill set. We can’t teach junior leaders without that kind of appreciation. Leader-ship is developed when we teach both in a classroom, institutional and ‘experience education,’ and via self-development and study.”
As the Patton Museum of Leadership and the ROTC program each go through transformations, one thing seems clear: the devotion to education and learning.
“At the end of the day, when it’s all said and done,” Wingate said, “we want to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we have provided the best education and resources in leadership to our Army, our nation, and our community future leaders.”