At Face Value: Manchester Museum, Common Cause Foundation and TeachFirst

Guest blog by Eleanor Ridley, TeachFirst Ambassador and Teacher at The Willows Primary School. 

When I originally saw that there was an opportunity via TeachFirst Summer Projects to work with the Manchester Museum, I sent my application in roughly as fast as a lightning strike. The main purpose of my time here has been to work with Secondary and Post-16 Coordinator, Cat Lumb, and Common Cause Coordinator, Shanna Lennon to investigate what type of values are communicated on the Manchester Museum’s pages about learning as part of the Museum’s work with Common Cause Foundation.

What is Common Cause Foundation?

Common Cause Foundation is an organisation which studies cultural values and explores how we can understand these in order to help us respond to current social and environmental challenges. One of the main findings is that 74% of people place more importance on compassionate values than on selfish values. However, 77% of the people interviewed believe that other people hold selfish values to be more important. Essentially, we have a gap between what we actually value, and what we believe about what people value, and it makes the world a lonelier place, where people are less likely to feel connected to their local and global community. The questions for major social institutions are: How are we going to communicate our values to help reduce this gap? And what are our values in the first place?

The Values of the Learning Team

At the beginning of the project, Cat sent me to go and find out what the values of the Learning Team were to see whether everyone was on the same page or not. The result was that yes, the Learning Team really do have shared values and a shared vision, and a shared understanding of the value of learning at Manchester Museum. The team members separately proclaimed the following  unanimous beliefs, in roughly the same order, every time.

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Some word art displaying the core values of the Learning Team when interviewed

1. The value of curiosity and self-directed learning and getting the chance to explore for yourself.

2. The authentic experience of being in a museum and handling real objects from the museum collections.

3. The importance of access to this cultural capital for students from all backgrounds and all abilities to the collections.

4. The museum as somewhere which can inspire aspirations, enabling students to see personal possibilities and their potential for the future.

Through every meeting and discussion that I witnessed, these values have been transparent. It is very obvious, even in two weeks, that the people working in the Learning Team care deeply and consistently about reaching out to a wide demographic (literally taking the museum to the people if the people can’t make it to the museum). It is also clear that they have a profound belief in the value of the experiences that they can offer through Manchester Museum collections, educationally and emotionally. Communicating these values will be the icing on the cake.

Education and Museums

Those working in education know the huge challenges that are to be faced in fighting educational inequality, which can be hugely daunting. As the Common Cause Foundation research shows, the feeling that benevolence is not widespread can lead to a feeling of apathy and helplessness. Organisations such as TeachFirst and Manchester Museum have tremendous power in communicating common goals and helping spread the message that students should get access to rich educational experiences, regardless of their socio-economic background, and inspiring more people to join the conversation.

This project has been an inspiring and heartening insight into the hearts and minds behind the educational programmes at Manchester Museum, and I wish the team the best of luck in continuing to promote their message.

Pictures

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Stories Found Under the Ground: Big Sat 15 July 2017

Guest blog by Sadiya Fern, Archaeology and Anthropology student at The University of Manchester.

Hi there! I’m a second year Archaeology & Anthropology student here on placement at the Manchester Museum for two weeks. I’ve had an insightful experience here at the Museum and was lucky enough to take part in a Big Saturday on Sat 15 July.  The theme for the most recent ‘Big Saturday’ was ‘Stories Found under the Ground’ as part of the Festival of Archaeology 2017. The event attracted all kinds of visitors; I had interacted with a family from Rome and a family from France as well as many local families eager to participate in the activities. Spread across the three Discovery Centre rooms were various object handling ‘zones’: the Ancient Roman Zone displayed Ancient Warfare Replicas, visitors enjoyed trying the helmet on, particularly parents. The Ancient Egypt Zone also displayed Ancient Warfare Replicas and was just as popular, particularly as the objects could be handled by visitors bringing a lot of amazement to the visitors.

The Stone Age Zone had visitors attempting to decipher which of the items were from the Stone Age and which were not. The Stone Painting Zone which was inspired by 11,000 year old Stone Age stones found in a French cave, Le Mas d’Azil with mysterious patterns on them. Visitors of all ages had fun creating their own painted stones and small works of art, there were many happy little faces upon collection of their now dry painted stones at the end of the day.

I helped with the Dig Box activity, where children were encouraged to roll up their sleeves and fine tune their archaeology skills which proved to be quite popular and not just because of the sand! This activity discovered many young archaeologists who were very keen and eager to have a little dig to see what they could find. Once they had found some objects and brushed them clean, the little explorers went on to examine the objects to figure out what they could be and how old they were. I heard many children shout in excitement “Look mummy! Look what I found!” and most children over the age of around 5 were just as excited about discovering what the objects they found were and where they came from.

Manchester Libraries were promoting their free summer reading challenge, encouraging children to read 6 books over the summer to be able to win stickers, certificates and prizes highlighting free access to libraries across the city. There was a wonderful reading area where many parents read with their children, a colouring area, and a little craft area too.

In the Victorian Objects Zone visitors were piecing together Victorian Manchester through 19th century pottery found in an excavation on Deansgate. Broken plates, teacups and much more were being taped together almost like a jigsaw, although slightly trickier as the pieces could have sharp edges requiring much more patience!

Some comments from the day include:
“I absolutely love this place, it is adventurous!” – Macey
“I discovered different stones and how an archaeologist digs for fossils. I had fun doing the activities.”
“Fantastic! Good to learn a bit about history, thank you.”
“I loved it!”
“Great day out, very informative and your staff are fantastic!” – O, J, F, R

The Museum’s next Big Saturday: Modelling Nature is on Sat 19 Aug: 11am-4pm.

 

The end of my museum placement

Luke_Placement_final dayGuest blog by Luke Jarrett, Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) Animal Behaviour undergraduate student

Hello it’s Luke again I know it’s been a while since my last blog, but I have been on placement with the Learning Team here at Manchester Museum for the past nine months. I thought I would share some of my highlights and some of the things I have learnt whilst being here at Manchester Museum.

I will start off with one of the things I am most proud about that I have done since being here at the Museum, which is the fact that I created a self-guided resource from scratch for one of the Museum’s Enrichment days. The brief I was given was to create a self-guided resource for year 7 based on biomimicry in the Living Worlds gallery. The most fun and also the hardest part of making this activity was my idea of creating three riddles for the three animals which the pupils had to find on gallery. Within each riddle there was a clue to what the animal was and where you could find it within the Museum gallery. My favourite was the riddle “I spend my life swimming in the sea but it makes me very tired so now I just hang out in the gallery. What am I?” – can you guess which specimen on the Living Worlds gallery this relates to? After the Enrichment day the feedback I got from this activity was more than I could have hoped for from both students and teachers alike, it was all positive with some students and teachers saying it was their favourite activity from the whole Enrichment day.

Inflatable MuseumAnother thing I have been involved in during my nine months here at the Museum which I have loved has been the outreach visits to local schools. The main form of outreach I have experienced is the Inflatable Museum which is exactly what it sounds like. It is a big pop-up museum which we take to local schools that can’t make it to the Museum and run a session for the kids inside it. This also helped me develop my understanding and improved my use of the Museum’s main way of teaching which is enquiry based learning.

So over the last nine months I have learnt so much from using enquiry based learning effectively to that full dinosaur skeletons on display are normally casts of the bones and not the real thing (I know my mind was blown too). I feel like this placement has been fantastic for me as a person and my future, as I have learnt so much which I couldn’t have learnt if I hadn’t come on placement. Such as my presentation skills and working with not only the public but different age groups and being able to change my language dependent on my audience.  This placement has got me thinking about going into something similar to this but within zoos as I see that as the perfect mix between this placement, the skills I have gained from it and my animal behaviour degree.  So I would just like to thank Manchester Museum’s Learning Team for putting up with me stealing their computers and my supervisor Emily for having me on placement and for teaching me and helping me develop my skills.

We Make a Difference

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Jack with his certificate at the Making a Difference Awards Ceremony.

Last night at the University’s Making a Difference Award Ceremony our Inflatable Museum Coordinator, Jack Ridley, won the ‘Outstanding professional support services, library and cultural institution’s support for social responsibility’ award for his fantastic work on the Inflatable Museum.

The Inflatable Museum is our pop-up (literally) portable learning space that takes immersive, inspirational learning experiences into primary schools: watch a short film about Jack’s award-winning work.

In line with the University’s Widening Participation and Social Responsibility agendas, the project has overcome some of the barriers that otherwise prevent young people from engaging with Manchester’s cultural venues and universities.

We also got a chance to watch the new Measuring the Difference  impact film* which showcases some of the ways in which the University works to ‘make a difference’ to the social and environmental wellbeing of our communities and wider society.

It is really great to see the Museum’s work in this area is being recognised, so well done Jack!

*can you spot the Learning Team member? [hint: look for the smile!]

Summer Bookings and Future Plans

Wow! We’re amazed to say that the Primary Learning Programme here at Manchester Museum is now almost booked up for the entire summer term.

We host over 30,000 school pupils every year in the Museum, in our curriculum-linked workshops and in activities led by class teachers themselves. The popularity of our Learning Programme is testament to the hard work of countless people: Learning Team members past and present for developing and delivering the workshops, our Visitor Team for their help in making the visits run so smoothly, and curators for providing inspiring displays and exhibitions.

Unfortunately, we do turn away thousands of children every year because we just don’t have capacity for everyone. Our focus is always on providing an amazing experience for all visitors, and too many bookings can make the building overcrowded and hinder everyone’s enjoyment – including that of our schools.

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Luckily, we have a plan! We are currently in a final stages of submitting for HLF funding for our Courtyard Project, which will transform the Museum with a major two-storey extension, a new main entrance, and much-improved visitor facilities inspired by a new ethos of a ‘museum for life.’ It will also enable us to accommodate thousands of extra visitors each year, and help us meet the ever-increasing demand for our Learning programme. Please follow the Learning blog and our Twitter to get the latest information about how building work will affect school visits in the coming years.

We know it will be disappointing that you can’t visit this term. Bookings are now open for September 2017-March 2018, so do get next year’s trip booked in now.

You might also be interested in our Inflatable Museum, an inspiring new outreach offer designed to bring the wonder and curiosity of the Museum to your school hall.

We hope we’ll see you again soon!

Amy McDowall, Primary Learning Coordinator
amy.mcdowall@manchester.ac.uk / 0161 275 7357

P.S. We still have availability for Secondary and Post-16 groups.

Come to the Museum to be Rainforest Investigators!

Today we officially launch our exciting new ‘Rainforest Investigators’ session here at the Manchester Museum. This a brand new environmental education session based on the differing rainforest habitats and developed for Key Stage 2 pupils, which is for upper primary/age 7-11 year olds. It links strongly to National Curriculum Year 4 Science ‘Living things and […]

via Rainforest Investigators — FROG BLOG MANCHESTER

Clarendon Sixth Form: Unveiling South Asia- Journey to Manchester

IMG_1106With it being the Easter holidays here in central Manchester we are very pleased to host the annual Photography display of images by Clarendon Sixth Form students. These Year 12 students are studying for their BTEC Extended Diploma in Photography and the project with Manchester Museum contributes to their units in ‘Ideas and Concepts in Art and Design’ and ‘Studio Photography’.

Typically these displays have been linked with the Museum’s entire collection and have been shown in black and white (see previous posts), but this year we focused the students on a particular theme: Manchester’s connection to South Asia.

With the Museum’s upcoming Courtyard Project to build a permanent South Asia gallery (along with a new space for special exhibitions) we encouraged the students to explore the Museum’s current South Asia collection with Living Cultures Curator Stephen Welsh. They then used this as inspiration to research Manchester’s own links with South Asia – be that through food, tradition, people or religion. Each student then presented one image to us to demonstrate those connections which appears in the final exhibition.

Clarendon Sixth Form students’ work can be seen in The Study on the 3rd floor of Manchester Museum until the summer.

 

Journeys across the sea and beyond: talking about current issues at Manchester Museum

You might notice on your next visit to the Museum that we have some new additions to our displays.

Our curators are thinking a lot about contemporary collecting and how we as an organisation respond to current issues such as climate change and migration.

Some of our new installations might raise some complex feelings in some of your pupils, so we wanted you to be aware in advance of some of the things you may encounter on your visit and suggest how you might want to utilise these objects to start conversations with your pupils about the issues they highlight.

Refugee Lifejacket

Life jacket from Lesvos on display at Manchester Museum

Refugee’s lifejacket from Lesvos in the entrance of Manchester Museum

For example, a refugee’s lifejacket, from the Greek island of Lesvos,  has recently gone on display in the main entrance. As Bryan Sitch, a curator here, has said:

“Our mission is to promote understanding between different cultures and to work towards a more sustainable world … We hope that this work will help us to reach out to Syrian members of the community as well as other diaspora communities.”

Visitors can watch a video about how the life jacket was collected and engage in discussion about it on Twitter via  .

We are aware that some of the stories and images linked to this object (though not displayed with it) could be upsetting for some children. However, Amnesty International have some excellent expert guidance on how to discuss these issues with older children, which you may want to introduce before a visit to the Museum.

Child migrant stories, a resource about the experiences of child migrants today and in the past, may also be useful.

We believe that the object on its own should not be upsetting unless a child has a particular related personal experience.

‘Nu Shabtis’ Journeys

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Examples of Zahed Taj-Eddin’s ‘Nu Shabtis’ outside Manchester Museum

From the end of March, our Graeco-Roman Egyptian Portraits and Egyptian Worlds galleries will be temporarily home instead to an installation by a Syrian-born artist,  Zahed Taj-Eddin.

Zahed’s ‘Nu Shabtis’ are inspired by the common Egyptian tomb item, the shabti (sometimes known as ushabtis). Classes who take part in our Egyptian Worlds workshop will encounter real shabtis close up: they are the servants of the afterlife, placed in tombs to work for the deceased.

But Zahed’s ‘Nu Shabtis’ are new works of art made of beautiful bright blue faience. Part of the installation sees the Nu Shabtis suspended from the Egyptian Worlds gallery ceiling. The work reflects on the experience of migrants travelling across the Mediterranean towards a new life, much as the ancient Egyptians believed their shabtis would have travelled over to the afterlife.

They present an accessible way to help children think about human stories of journeys. What makes us leave a place? What makes us stay? What do we believe about our future? What do we believe about life after death? Again, the resources from Amnesty International might help you explore this with your pupils.

Seeing the works as artefacts and as works of art, you could look at similarities and differences between the ancient shabtis and Nu Shabtis. How do we know which are ancient and which are modern? Why would an artist be inspired by the ancient? What was Zahed’s purpose in drawing parallels between old and new objects and stories? Are the pupils inspired by anything in the Museum to create their own works of art?

Please note that the Nu Shabti installation will mean that our Graeco-Roman Mummies and Portraits will not be on display until July.

We would love to hear your stories of how you have used either of these installations with your classes and how they responded to them. 

If you have any questions or concerns about these displays, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us:

Amy McDowall – Primary Learning Coordinator

Cat Lumb – Secondary and Post-16 Arts & Humanities Coordinator

 

 

Early Years & Childhood Studies Placement

In January we were pleased to welcome a placement from Manchester Metropolitan University to work with us over the course of three weeks. Eve got a chance to see a selection of the learning offer by observing a variety of workshops and work alongside those in the Learning Team. At the end of the placement Eve was kind enough to write a post for us, and here it is:

My name is Eve Bokor and I am an Early Years and Childhood Studies student at Manchester Metropolitan University. Working at Manchester Museum has been simply a pleasure. I have worked with the Early Years, Primary and Secondary school team on a variety of workshops that have been excellent to observe, engage and even learn myself. Any school that has experienced having a workshop at the museum is lucky. The school workshops include a large variety of topics, examples of the ones I saw were ancient Egypt, Stone Age, ancient History, Animal Explorers and Baby Explorers. These workshops aid children to explore the different topics in a create informal manner. A common theme I observed in the workshops were all children were well behaved, curious and eager to provide the knowledge they have or give suggestions to what they think. All the staff that worked with the children were friendly and enthusiastic, offering support and expert knowledge for the children. What I particularly admire is the level of involvement the children have in workshops which includes being about to handle the artefacts (which is there is quite a selection of them).

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Eve’s favourite gallery was the Vivarium

I worked there for three weeks,and  in that time I have seen a fair amount of the artefacts in the Museum, but I know there is so much more to see: Endless information about the vast number of topics. Another part of the Museum that I admire is the environmentally friendly example it sets for the citizens of Manchester. Offering information about current issues that are endangering the living species and the environment we live in. There is practical advice on how an individual can help which I think is vital in the current climate. Overall this Museum is a spectacular place for all ages and abilities, because it is a well of knowledge that feeds the population of Manchester.

Raising Aspirations: Exploring Ancient Egyptian Art

img_5110I was recently contacted by a teacher from Tameside College’s  Aspirations Department (I love that there is such a department exists!) who teaches  a group of young people with learning disabilities (aged 16-20) on an Entry level 2 study programme.  They have been studying a BTEC unit titled Exploring Art,  where they had to plan and produce a piece of art within 15 weeks.

“In order to get some ideas and inspiration we visited Manchester Museum and as a result of that the learners chose Ancient Egypt as their theme. After viewing what the Museum had on display the students came up with some marvellous ideas.  Each learner made a mood board displaying their idea and the tools and equipment they planned on using to create their piece of art work and finally creating their own piece: the results were fantastic.”

Their teacher was really pleased to be able to share these images of the process and final outcomes for the BTEC unit and some comments from the learners who took part.

This is a wonderful example of the achievements that can come from an inspirational Museum visit. The learners should be very proud of their work and we’d be happy to have them revisit the Museum at any time!

Learner Comments from Aspirations, Tameside College

“We chose to make Egyptian masks that showed the make up the ladies wore in Ancient Egypt.  We were inspired by visiting the museum and by taking photographs of the hieroglyphics and we copied the colours and designs.”

“The museum had lots of interesting artefacts which gave me the idea of making a special display.  I made a pyramid, tomb design, and an oasis mirage.   I also wrote my name in hieroglyphics.  My visit to the museum inspired me to design my mood board and create my display.  I love Art and History.”

“When we first arrived at the Manchester Museum, it looked so beautiful that I feel like we should go there again. I enjoyed looking at the dinosaurs, but my favourite was the largest one (The Tyrannosaurus-rex). The other animals looked nice as well. Another thing that inspired me is that the museum tells you exactly what happened all those years ago. I also finished my mood board by finding the correct category for me. The pictures were fantastic and I loved looking at them. The museum had a big giant snake which I was standing behind when I had a picture took. I liked all the Egyptian models as well. I would love to see them all again. It looked absolutely perfect for a full day trip. And that is how Manchester Museum inspired me to work on and complete my artwork.”

“I found the visit to the museum fascinating and interesting because I learnt a lot about Ancient Egypt and Tutankhamun tomb. I was surprised to find out he was only 19 years old when he died in 1324, two years older than me. When I saw the pottery artefacts that  were found and displayed in the museum it inspired me to make my own display”

“When I visited the museum I had a really good time. I enjoyed looking at all the artefacts and I was inspired to design Egyptian clothes. The ancient Egypt exhibition was fun and enjoyable. I would really like to do it again.”