On Interpretation: Sociology for Interpreters of Natural & by Donald R. Field (Editor), Donald R. Field (Editor) Gary E.

By Donald R. Field (Editor), Donald R. Field (Editor) Gary E. Machlis

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Interpretation's essence, if we may borrow from Freeman Tilden, is much more difficult to describe. What is its role in society? What is its methodhow does one do interpretation? What is its vocation, its central purpose? To answer these questions, we turn to Tilden as a central figure in interpretation's development. Freeman Tilden was born in 1884, worked at his father's smalltown newspaper, and then served as a reporter on papers in Boston, Charleston, South Carolina, and New York City. He then began a literary career, writing fiction for magazines, theater, and radio.

However, informal contacts with interpreters are in many cases the most rewarding for the visitor and should be encouraged to the greatest extent possible. In amphitheaters, for example, fixed benches might be replaced with less formal seating patterns, and the interpreter might move among the visitors while presenting his topic. By avoiding a stage as much as possible and allowing for periodic interruption and questions from visitors, he might create an atmosphere which encourages informality and participation.

Too often we find interpreters assigned to visitor contact areas where only a small proportion of the total visitors can be found. Rotating staff assignments to areas of visitor concentration might be required. An examination of interpretive emphasis (where and to whom and at what time) is needed. One might develop a balance sheet to assess where the visitors are and where interpreters Page 16 are assigned. Sightseeing by vehicle, for example, is one of the most popular activities in parks. Interpreters who are available along major road systems have a greater contact opportunity.

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