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Interpretation for the 21st Century: Fifteen Guiding Principles for Interpreting Nature and Culture Paperback – Jun 2002

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 206 pages
  • Publisher: Sagamore Publishing Inc; 2 edition (June 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1571675221
  • ISBN-13: 978-1571675224
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 15.2 x 23.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 381 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #751,630 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Format: Paperback
Larry Beck's and Ted Cable's "Interpretation for the 21st Century, Fifteen Guiding Principles for Interpreting Nature and Culture" is one of the best resources I have found for tour guides, museum professionals, educators, and anyone who builds programming around historical, cultural and natural sites or institutions.
It introduces the classics of interpretation (Tilden, Mills, etc.) and then covers everything from the bigger picture to the details of specific practices.
As a program manager in a museum, I find lots of food for thought, training material, and program development guidance in this book. It also captures the excitement, joy, and passion that Interpretation can embody in its best forms. This book is both inspiring and helpful every time I use it.
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Amazon.com: 3.3 out of 5 stars 11 reviews
37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interpretation for the 21st Century July 17 2000
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Larry Beck's and Ted Cable's "Interpretation for the 21st Century, Fifteen Guiding Principles for Interpreting Nature and Culture" is one of the best resources I have found for tour guides, museum professionals, educators, and anyone who builds programming around historical, cultural and natural sites or institutions.
It introduces the classics of interpretation (Tilden, Mills, etc.) and then covers everything from the bigger picture to the details of specific practices.
As a program manager in a museum, I find lots of food for thought, training material, and program development guidance in this book. It also captures the excitement, joy, and passion that Interpretation can embody in its best forms. This book is both inspiring and helpful every time I use it.
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Thorough, but "textbooky" June 3 2007
By A. Ford - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Someday there will be one book that sums up the field of interpretation. This is not it. This book is 'ok' as a reference book, but mine collects more dust than the others in my interpretive library. Ironically, I felt it lacks the passion that is so crucial to interpretation. To me, it didn't say anything new that Tilden hadn't already covered. This is purely my opinion, but I'm not convinced that Beck's 'extra' principles are a significant contribution to the profession. For example, one chapter is on 'communicating in the information age'. Anyone who's the slightest bit computer-literate knows that interpretation, like any profession, needs to grow and change with time. Does it really require an entire chapter? It's already outdated, anyway, because it doesn't cover blogging or Facebook, which are two tools I use for passive interpretation. I hear that a new edition is coming out, soon, so I hope these tools are included.

If you haven't read the 'staples' of interpretation (Tilden, Cornell, Ham, etc.) yet, this book will be useful, because it contains 'cliffnotes' on these books. But I recommend reading Tilden for the basics, Cornell to get inspired, and Ham's book, 'Environmental Interpretation' (which isn't just for the natural history interpreter) for the hands-on application part, instead.
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent handbook for Tour Guides and other Interpreters Nov. 25 2004
By Branislav Rabotic - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The authors of this book offered me exactly what I have expected: a concise and comprehensive insight into the Art of interpretation. They have used for their starting point some `classics' on this subject, such as Mills or Tilden (they did it in a wise and respectful way), and then they developed a much wider and contemporary context to display all aspects of interpretation - its meaning, principles, tools and practice.

According to the authors these are the 15 basic principles of modern interpretation (explained in separate chapters of the book):

1. Lighting a Spark
2. Interpreting in the Information Age
3. Importance of the Story
4. Provocation
5. Holistic Interpretation
6. Interpretation Throughout the Lifespan
7. Bringing the Past Alive
8. Modern Tools of Interpretation
9. Enough is Enough
10. Technique Before Art
11. Interpretive Writing
12. Attracting Support and Making Friends
13. Interpreting Beauty
14. Promoting Optimal Experience
15. Passion

Not only have they covered all relevant facets of their theme, but they also got it across in a clear, interesting and instructive way. Naturally, one could have expected that explanations regarding `interpretation' would be interpreted well. In the case of this book such expectations have completely been met. Simply, Beck and Cable did a great job. As a reader you will enjoy their accounts of what interpretation is or is not and how can it be effectively practiced in both natural and cultural environments.

A great deal of useful tips for interpreters, meaningful quotations, as well as some helpful notes printed in separate `boxes' give this book an additional flavor of seriously planned, thoroughly studied and fully executed task by the authors. This book may undoubtedly serve as an excellent tool for tour guides to improve their interpreting capabilities and their art of story-telling in order to give their audience really great tours!

Will this book become a `new Bible' in the field of interpretation in the 21st century?
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Valuable after the 2nd Reading Nov. 6 2010
By Mark W. Bohrer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Don't expect a flowing, memorable read out of this book. But after you refer to it a couple times for a program you're creating, it will be more useful. Lots of good suggestions, especially on programs for kids, teens and seniors.

You may need to outline chapters as if you're interpreting them for an audience to organize the book's ideas. That will make the book 'stick' much better in your memory.

When Sam Ham's update to Environmental Interpretation comes out, look at that instead. If he includes updates to use of modern media in interpretive programs, it'll blow Beck and Cable away.

Meanwhile, if you really need a resource on modern interpretation methods, buy this book USED.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A handy handbook for interpreters July 18 2012
By Arthur Digbee - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is a useful guide to the profession of interpretation in parks and similar outdoor settings. It's not oriented toward the museum profession. It's much shorter than the same authors' large hardcover text (also written with Knudson), and much more readable outside a classroom setting.

Beck and Cable provide a list of fifteen interpretive principles, and they develop each principle with several sub-topics. They have useful things to say about each point, but they don't flow well either within each principle or from one principle to the next. The result is more an outline than a narrative, ironically violating two of their own principles (holism and emphasizing the story). The book also fails to convey the authors' passion for the subject, though passion, too, is one of their fifteen principles.

The authors are both very experienced as interpreters and as teachers of interpreters. They've consulted widely, and they draw on many examples of interpretation that they put in sidebars and boxes. It's written at a somewhat lower reading level than I would have expected (maybe 9th-10th grade) but that certainly makes it accessible without being too simple. Still, it's fairly dry and I think most people will dip into it rather than read it through.


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