South Asia TeachMeet – what we learnt

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On 7 December, we hosted our first South Asia-themed TeachMeet event, launching our future work on the South Asia gallery as part of the HLF Courtyard Project.

It was a fabulous evening with some amazing speakers, experts and creative practitioners sharing ideas and inspiration for teachers from across Greater Manchester. The teachers attending had some really great insights into what they would find valuable in a future learning programme linked to the new gallery, quote of the night being “It’s about time Manchester had a South Asia gallery!”

Below is a flavour of what we all learnt about … in alphabetical order by school/organisation (where applicable) for ease!

If you are a primary or early years teacher, and have not already completed our survey about our future programme, we’d be very grateful if you could do so here.

Anjum Anwar MBE

Anjum is an educator who has worked for many years in the fields of interfaith understanding for both the Lancashire Council of Mosques and Blackburn Cathedral. She presented a passionate argument for schools to not shy away from these difficult conversations. Website coming soon.

Bhangracise

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Our night finished with Bhangracise! Bhangracise have been teaching, performing and advancing the art form of Bhangra dancing for over 12 years. They provide performances, fitness classes and school workshops across the UK. Find them on Twitter @Bhangracise.

Blackburn Museum

Stephen Irwin from Blackburn Museum spoke about his fantastic film project  about the contribution of Indian soldiers in WW2. “We Also Served” records the journey of a group of young people from Blackburn in trying to uncover the forgotten story of the Indian Army. More information about Blackburn Museum, and contact details for Steve, can be found here.

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British Council

The British Council attended to share information with teachers about their ‘Connecting Classrooms’ programme: “Connecting Classrooms is a fully funded learning journey that includes face-to-face and online courses, international professional partnerships and visit funding opportunities based around the core skills.” See their poster, flyer and website for more information.

Chorlton High School

Chorlton High School is a Heritage School. Natalie Sanderson, Assistant Curriculum Leader at CHS, has spearheaded a fantastic project – ‘My Mancunium’ with their Year 7s, examining the many diffrent communities who have migrated to Manchester from Roman times onwards. The project is cross-curricular and enables pupils from this multicultural school to understand the push/pull factors in migration and feel pride in their city. Contact Natalie on twitter @historicalsando.

Computeam

Computeam create incredible virtual and augmented reality resources for schools and were speaking to teachers about how the Indus Valley might be incorporated into their amazing Active Worksheets series. See them on Twitter @computeam.

Equilibrium Dance Arts

Equilibrium Dance and Arts is a social enterprise whose objective is to integrate dance, arts, mental health & well-being and research. Gaya from EDA joined us from Dubai via Skype to share her PHD research on dance in education, and teach us a few moves! You can contact Gaya via Facebook  and Twitter.

Kingsway Community Trust

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Rumana Asif and the Kingsway Community Trust were presented at the TeachMeet with a first-of-its-kind award from the British Council for ‘outstanding development of the international dimension in the curriculum’. Amazing! They incorporate the British Council’s connecting classrooms in all areas of school life at every age.

Manchester Road Primary Academy

Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, Year 1 teacher Anthony Parker is piloting a new cross-curricular topic with his class on India. They will cover geography and history, a ‘significant individual’ and even cricket in PE! In the future he will be able to bring his class to the Museum to see real artefacts from Indian history. Contact him on twitter @Anthillel.

Rubbia Ullah

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Rubbia is an experienced art practitioner in museum, gallery, heritage and other settings. Her art is often inspired by South Asian techniques and practices. At the TeachMeet she shared with us techniques of basket weaving, printing and making clay pots.

Southern Voices

Southern Voices is a network of people committed to bringing the knowledge and understanding of Southern* and Black* people to the global issues that are central to education and to living in the world today. Kirit presented information about their fascinating HLF project about the impact of WW1 on colonised peoples. Southern Voices can offer ‘free’ sessions on this for schools by experienced practitioners. Email Kirit for more details.

St Marys RC Primary

The Indus Valley Civilisation – a bronze age civilisation in what is now Pakistan – is an often-overlooked alternative to ancient Egypt in the KS2 curriculum. Mark Chadwick teaches this as a fascinating (and messy!) contrast to both Egypt and prehistoric Britain to his Year 3 class.

The University of Manchester School of Arts, Languages and Cultures

Dr John Zavos and Dr Jacqueline Suthren Hirst are experts in South Asian history and religions, especially Hinduism. The TAROSA website is an excellent resource for challenging popular notions of Hinduism with older students, and the Museum of the South Asian Diaspora could support a topic on migration.

The University of Manchester School of Sociology

Professor Claire Alexander has received a University of Manchester award for ‘Outstanding benefit to society through research’. She spoke about the fantastic projects that won her this award: Banglastories, Making Histories and Our Migration Story. These are great resources and also give guidelines for teachers wanting their pupils to become oral historians.

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South Asia TeachMeet

tmsouthasialandscapeWe are very excited to announce that we will be hosting an after-hours TeachMeet on 7 December  at Manchester Museum. South Asia-inspired artists, teachers, speakers and organisations will be here in The Study to share a wealth of ideas and projects at this unique event.

Speakers and experts include:

  • Prof. Claire Alexander, University of Manchester – South Asian identity and migration; oral history with young people
  • Dr John Zavos and Dr Jacqueline Suthren Hirst, University of Manchester – experts in South Asian history and religions respectively
  • Mark Chadwick – St Mary’s Primary – the Indus Valley Civilisation
  • Anjum Anwar MBE – interfaith dialogue in schools
  • Dr Gayathri Ganapathy – storytelling and cognition through South Asian dance
  • British Council – ‘Connecting Classrooms’ global education programme
  • Blackburn Museum – film project on India’s role in WW2
  • Sophie Marshall – Irk Valley Primary – RE in the Early Years

The event is also your opportunity to learn more about how teachers can be involved in our upcoming capital redevelopment known as the Courtyard Project; in particular relating to the new South Asia gallery which is planned for 2020 in a landmark partnership with the British Museum.

Come and escape the festive madness and get fresh ideas and inspiration for the New Year and beyond!

Free refreshments will be provided.

Limited tickets are available here – book now to avoid disappointment! 

Please contact amy.mcdowall@manchester.ac.uk / 0161 2757357 with any questions or if you would like to speak at the event.

We look forward to seeing you then!

Science-related residential summer school opportunity for AS students

Green_Vs_Polluted_CityInterested in how we can create a more sustainable future? Brilliant chance for AS level students to be part of our first ever residential Sustainability Summer School here at Manchester Museum. Bringing objects, technology and innovation together. Supported by the NWBLT, as part of our Lever Prize 2015 year. Find more info and how to apply here.

How do we make sense of war? A Museum-Whitworth Study Day

On Monday 24th November Manchester Museum hosted our first MuseumWhitworth collaborative study day – ‘Conflict: Making Sense of War‘. The aim of the day was to encourage students to discuss conflict in both the past and present, provide students with an understanding of conflict and stimulate a personal reaction to situations related to collections and artists responses.

The study day was prefaced by a short talk by our Curator of Living Cultures, Stephen Welsh, on the origins of our anthropological collection and some of the links these have to conflict. You can watch that video here.

IMG_0891On the day itself we were lucky to have a selection of students from three different colleges, studying Art, Fashion, History or Politics. After an introductory lecture by Professor Peter Gatrell, from University of Manchester’s School of Arts, Languages and Cultures students were encouraged to interact in various activities designed to get them thinking about how we respond to conflict – looking at art work, museum displays and text – and discuss their own reactions to various scenarios that represented conflict.

The talk by Peter Gatrell was well received, with students asking intelligent and thought-provoking questions. You can watch the entire talk, followed by the Q&A section below, or directly here. It provided students with a glimpse into how artists can interpret the facets of war and the discussions these pieces can produce – inclusive of the building of war memorials and the message they convey.

The afternoon session was shared by an external partner – In Place of War; an initiative that supports artists and creative communities living in sites of war, revolution and conflict to express themselves. Inés Soria-Donlan, Digital Manager for In Place of War, presented the idea of cultural activism through the arts as a way of responding to conflict. It was our colleagues from In Place of War that introduced us to our creative artist that led the final activity – Jun Tzu.

Jun Tzu – aka Jonathan Hamilton – is a Belfast born poet who has lived in Manchester since he was a teenager and writes material that deals directly with his experiences, many of which are linked with the history of conflict in Northern Ireland. He often uses his poetry to create rap and hip-hop songs, and recently brought out his debut album in 2014.

During the study day he was able to share his – and his family’s – experiences with the students and they engaged readily with his knowledge and position, benefiting from the direct and open approach Jun has. As an activity Jun asked each of the students to write a poem, supporting them with an approach he often uses as a starting point for his work. The students then performed these, demonstrating the mature and often complex responses to conflict that the day had stimulated. A few of which are shared below.

At the end of the day some of the comments we received about the day were really positive, see below.

[It was]…”Extremely beneficial – I learnt different views on certain aspects of conflict”

“Helpful – as [my view] was changed by listening to other people’s”

“Deeper discussions and questions – felt like we were only ever scratching the surface”

Students believed their analytical, critical thinking and writing skills all developed during the day and it prompted a number of questions that the students took away with them to continue discussions on the topic of conflict.

Does war create more beautiful art than peace?
Why is art so persistent in remaining through war?
Which information do we need to have to know what is really happening during a [conflict] event?
Can conflict ever be justified?
Is war really worth it?
Is propaganda the result of war?

All in all, it was a very successful day that we believe achieved all the aims we set out and encouraged those involved to express – and develop – their views about conflict given the significance of the centenary of World War War I this year. As a result, we hope to host another similar day in the Summer Term 2015.

If you would like to be informed of this date once it is set, please email catherine.lumb@manchester.ac.uk to be put on our Post-16 mailing list.

Exploring frogs with physics!

Last week we were very excited to run our annual ‘Frogs and Physics’ A level study days, which are part of our ‘Engage with the Experts‘ series. These days give A level students a chance to meet current researchers and experts to see how their passion for a subject could lead to cutting edge research.

Museum specimens showing colour adaptations

 

 

 

 

We started the day by considering why colour is important in nature. This was provoked by a range of beautiful entomology specimens displaying colour adaptations from Manchester Museum’s collection.

Colour adaptations spotted on our Live Animal gallery

 

 

The students then explored our Live Animal gallery, where a large variety of amphibians and reptiles are on display, to spot living examples of these colour adaptations. The gallery also contains a window showing some of the behind-the-scene conservation work in which the Museum is involved. Including breeding tanks of endangered Lemur Leaf frogs.

 

Andrew Gray, Curator of Herpetology, The Manchester Museum

Andrew Gray, Curator of Herpetology

During our first expert talk of the day, by our Curator of Herpetology, Andrew Gray, one of our red-eyed leaf frogs made an appearance to show off its impressive bright colouration. Andrew explained that amphibians in the wild are under threat due to a range of factors, such as a deadly skin fungus and climate change. He stressed how effective it can be when experts from a range of disciplines work together to tackle the large issues surrounding endangered animal conservation.

Mark Dickinson, from the Photon Science Institute at The University, explores the physics of colour

Mark Dickinson, from the Photon Science Institute

 

 

The current research being conducted by Andrew and Mark Dickinson, from the Photo Science Institute at The University of Manchester, is a brilliant example of this type of collaborative working.

In his talk, Mark explored the physics behind colour and explained how physics can help investigate the pigments within the skin of frogs.

 

The students got to investigat the physical properties of the frogs skin using non-invasive physics equipment

Using non-invasive physics equipment

 

In the afternoon the students visited the Photon Science Institute. They had the chance to see what a physics lab looks like and to use hi-tech spectrometers, infra-red cameras, and thermal imaging equipment.

 

Example of student comments from the days:

It was good to have the experts talk to us about their work, I also enjoyed using the equipment and looking at the equipment whilst walking through the lab’

‘Fantastic day!’

‘Thanks to staff and University students for taking the time to help’

If you would like to learn more about the conservation work Manchester Museum is involved with please visit Frog Blog Manchester