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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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.

Evaluation Consultant Needed for HLF Funded Ancient Worlds Galleries

8158058348_5b8802721f 8157991179_5ea633f483 Ancient Worlds GalleriesManchester Museum is seeking an Evaluation Consultant to devise and implement a robust evaluation strategy to measure the impact of the Museum’s recent Ancient Worlds Galleries redevelopment. Ancient Worlds transformed the displays in three of the Museum’s galleries which are dedicated to archaeology and ancient Egypt. Opened in October 2012, at a cost of c. £1.5 million, the project has been funded with the support of several key external funders, including a significant grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

We now require an evaluation expert to assist us in assessing the extent to which we have met our original objectives for the redevelopment and in measuring the impact of the project upon the Museum’s diverse audiences. In addition to focusing upon the new galleries themselves, the evaluation process will also encompass the associated Activity Plan of events (public programmes, learning sessions, community engagement initiatives, etc.) which have taken place in these spaces since they reopened.

You can find more details here: Ancient Worlds Evaluation Consultant Brief

The successful applicant would be required to start around w/c 14th October 2013 and the full external evaluation report would need to be produced and submitted to the Museum by 16th December 2013.

Rainforest art

Some fantastic (scarey!) pictures by pupils from the Oasis Academy Oldham‘s summer school, showing creatures that they designed to suit a variety of different lifestyles in the rainforest…

Forest floor predator

Forest floor predator

Forest floor prey

Forest floor prey

Emergent layer predator

Emergent layer predator

Emergent layer prey

Emergent layer prey

Park life…

digging

Can you dig it?

Who’d have thought it? Whitworth Park, the park situated down the road next to the Whitworth Art Gallery, turns out to be a fascinating relic from a bygone era! I am ashamed to say that I have only really glanced at the park in passing. That is, however, until last week.

If you happened to visit the park between 1st and 12th July, you may have noticed that there was something afoot! Amongst the resident sun-bathers, joggers and dog walkers, you may have spotted quite a few cheerful-looking individuals wearing high-vis jackets, wondering around the park with tools, sitting under trees (apparently doing some washing up?), or digging holes in the ground: these are The Archaeologists!

Mel Giles and Ruth Colton on site

As part of the Whitworth Park Community Archaeology and History project (for a reminder of our previous involvement, check out this post about the 2011 season), a team  of archaeologists from the University of Manchester have been carrying out a study of Whitworth Park. On the 8th and 9th July, I had the pleasure of spending a (sweltering) day in the park when two local schools came to visit the site, and in what follows, I will endeavor to pass on some of what I learned.

You may ask what a group of archaeologists was doing digging around in the park when there are surely much more exciting, exotic places to be working. Well, not only has the unusually summery weather given things a rather tropical feel, but it also turns out that beneath the surface, the park holds many clues about its own history, both physical – the various structures and features of the park – and social – the individuals and groups who visited the park.

While the park’s boundaries and acreage (18 acres!) have remained largely unchanged since it opened in 1890, the structure and features of the space have. So if, like me, you have little knowledge about the park’s history, you may be surprised to learn that it had its own lake! In 1927, the lake was turned into a children’s paddling pool, which was itself subsequently filled in and levelled. If you visit the park today, you will find absolutely no evidence to suggest that there was ever a lake in the park. So how do we know that it was really there?

Postcards and maps provide useful clues about the park’s history, revealing that not only was there a lake in the park (with a gigantic fountain!), but there was also an observatory and a bandstand, amongst other things. Although we can learn a certain amount about the park’s history from such evidence, it is only by examining what was ‘ground level’ over 100 years ago, that such features and the intricacies of park life can actually be studied directly.

How to bail out a lake!

How to bail out a lake!

Enter the archaeologists!

Here we see ‘archaeology in action’ as a member of the team watches the site manager, Nick Overton, bail out what used to be part of the lake!

However, a close-up of this image reveals that in the dark silty (and rather smelly) goo that was once the bed of the park’s lake is actually littered with bottles; it would seem that the tradition of hurling empty bottles into lakes (or streams, the sea or any body of water) goes way back.

Bottles in silt

Bottles in silt

Rather than repeat what has already been written, for those of you who want to find out more about how the dig progressed, I recommend the Whitworth Parklife blog posts and storify pages. For a quick summary, Byran’s Ancient Worlds post is also informative. To find out how the day went when year 4 pupils from Medlock Primary school came to visit the site, check out ‘Digging at the Whitworth’ (guest post, written by the Museum’s four work experience students). Likewise, a post about Manchester Academy’s day on site has been written by one of the archaeologists, Ruth, and can be found here.

So what did they find?

Amongst other things, finds from the excavation include discarded bottles, part of a shoe, buttons, broken pipes, bits of pottery, a lead soldier (unfortunately misheard by one of the students as ‘a dead soldier’!), a pencil, a whistle, and part of a dolls eye! For the archaeologists, the items that were discarded as rubbish are just as valuable as those that found their way into the archaeological record by accident since they all provide clues about the park and its users.

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Filling in the trenches on Friday

When I visited the site on Friday, the team were packing up all of their kit and filling in the trenches that they had been working on over the previous fortnight (thankfully with the help of a JCB).

If you visit the park now, you will find little evidence to suggest that anything out of the ordinary had been taking place. However, that is not to suggest that the project is over. A short distance down the road, in the (slightly cooler) department laboratories, the archaeologists are still hard at work. By studying the artefacts and the layers of earth in which they were discovered, the archaeologists will be able to shed more light on the park’s history.

Both the finds and the findings from the archaeological excavations in the Whitworth Park will form the basis of an exhibition at the Manchester Museum, opening in May 2014. I will keep you posted with updates as the project progresses, so watch this space but if, in the meantime, you fancy your hand at archaeology or simply want to find out more, you may be interested in the events taking place at the museum as part of the Festival of Archaeology.

Ancient Egypt visits Artscool

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Last Tuesday and Wednesday, Manchester Museum took a selection of ancient Egyptian objects out to Artscool, an arts festival for primary school children at Manchester Metropolitan University’s Cheshire Campus in Crew. The week-long arts festival has aimed to raise the level of arts engagement in the area, and focused on the Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

Work in progress

Work in progress

Over 2 days, the museum ran 6 workshops, each for 20 primary pupils, in conjunction with Emma Thackham. While one half of the group developed their investigative skills by interpreting a selection of ancient Egyptian artefacts related to the theme of language and learning, the other half of the group worked with the artist to incorporate modern equivalents of these objects into an art installation.

Some images of the results can be found below…

A barrel of heads!

A barrel of heads!

What can I say?!

What can I say?!

A colourful arrangement

A colourful arrangement…

‘The tip of the educational iceberg’…amazing choir performance at Manchester Museum

choir picWe were amazingly privileged here at the Museum to play host to the fantastic ‘School Network Choir’ today. In the glorious Manchester sun, pupils from Oswald Road, Crab Lane, Birchfields and Barlow Hall schools sang a series of songs from around the world in the galleries and the Museum allotment, inspired by the collections in the Museum and the Whitworth Art Gallery. They sang beautifully, with passion and clear enjoyment. It was a wonderful sight to see and attracted staff, visitors and passers by alike. As described by their conductor, the actual performance is just the ‘tip of the educational iceberg’ – to prepare for this the pupils spent months researching Victorian and modern day Manchester, the Museum and its collection and learning about the history of the songs they were singing – and you could tell that they understood and had learnt so much more than just the words.

Here at the Museum we are always passionate about the collection and how inspiring it can be for creative work but it is always good to be reminded by brilliant projects and groups what wonderful and unexpected learning journeys objects can take you on. The performance today was an excellent reminder as to how great creativity can stem from experiences and sources outside the classroom and be used to stimulate classroom learning and enthusiasm for a subject.

Thank you to all schools involved today – we very much appreciated your efforts and the hard work you put it to your performances! And we very much hope to welcome you back in the future.

Be a climate researcher – Citizen Science – Make a rain gauge!

Here at the Manchester Museum we absolutely love projects that get pupils involved in real life science that matters – they are, after all, the researchers of tomorrow.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

How much rain falls in Manchester?

So we were really pleased to get information on the ‘Crowdsourcing4Climate: Community Rainfalls Collections’ pilot project, which hopes to get the public and schools collecting rainfall data to add to the data we can use in all sorts of scientific research. It’s simple but could be a brilliant and effective school project and will support research at Manchester, Birmingham and Leicester Universities.

We’ve attached some information on how you can get involved and would love to see local schools contributing – so do take a look and let us know if you need any further information C4C_TeacherGuide-1.

Celebrating Manchester’s History

We were very excited to work with our colleagues from Widening Participating, and one of our Partnership institutions, Whitworth Art Gallery, on creating two, one day workshops  for Secondary students concentrating on Manchester’s History.

This followed on from our successful model last year, as part of the Manchester Histories Festival, where various schools brought students to participate in workshops at the Whitworth and the Museum. They were also treated to an introductory lecture on Manchester’s history – this year – by Professor John Pickstone.

Histories objects

Objects used during Collecting the World workshop at Manchester Museum

As part of the Museum’s workshop, called Collecting the World, students were asked to investigate the collection and determine how, and why, it ended up in Manchester. They identified objects of interest on the Manchester Gallery and their links to the city. Then they were allocated objects from the collection not on display and asked to research them using online resources to find their link to Manchester. They were encouraged to consider sources of their information and the relevance any connected individuals had to their home city.

All in all it was really wonderful to be able to focus on Manchester’s history and how the Museum’s collection links to the city and illustrious indviduals  – such as William Boyd Dawkins, Jesse Haworth, Joseph Whitworth and Lydia Becker – not to mention highlight historical Manchester events such as the Exhibition of Art Treasures, the opening of the Manchester Ship Canal and the Peterloo Massacre.

ship canal medal

Manchester Ship Canal Medal

Questioned at the end of the session on which object they felt best represented Manchester’s History, the majority of students chose the Ship Canal Medal due to it’s links with trade and economy that helped make Manchester the hub of industry in the North and contributed to it becoming known as ‘Cottonopolis’!

Many thanks to all those invovled on the day: Stockport School, Parrs Wood HS, Manchester Health Academy, Manchester Enterprise Academy, Alder Community School, Cardinal Langley RC HS, Loreto High School.

We’ll  be repeating these fantastic local history focused days next year during the Manchester Histories Festival celebrations.

Discovering Diabetes A-Level Study Day with CADET

Students working with researchers on the ‘Dragons Den’ task

Giving students access to the fascinating cutting edge research that happens at the University of Manchester is a key priority for the Secondary and Post-16 science programme at Manchester Museum.  So when i was approcached by Elizabeth Pawson, a postdoctoral researcher in a research instutite called CADET (Centre for Advanced Discovery and Experimental Therapeutics) to help them develop an A-Level Study day about their research on diabetes i jumped at the chance.  Below is a blog post written by Lizz about their experience and the study day which took place on 18th October:

14 members of CADET (ranging from PhD students to professors) took part in the first Discovering Diabetes Study Day on October 18th. The study day, which was developed and designed by researchers at CADET, in collaboration with Alexa at Manchester Museum, to specifically complement the A ‘Level syllabus and was attended by AS and A2 Level students from Cardinal Newman College in Preston and Salford City College.  The study day enabled students to find out about diabetes, diabetic complications and how diabetes research is carried out whilst working closely with the range of scientists and clinicians who work at CADET.

Students presenting their 'pitch' to the DragonsAfter an opening talk which introduced the students to diabetes and to the role of CADET within the University, the students then participated in a “Dragons’ Den” style activity. In this the students worked in small groups and learned about different secondary complications of diabetes, how they are investigated at CADET and how scientific research is funded. They then had to pitch for future funding for research into the different complications, with the chance of winning £1 million. As shown by the evaluation at the end of the study day, the students very much enjoyed this activity and as such were very vocal during the pitching process! They were also very interested in learning about how academic research is conducted and felt that this session provided them with new insights into scientific research careers.

In a second activity the students were taught about the different technologies that CADET scientists use regularly as part of their research. The students had a work book of data and analysed results from a series of experiments with the aim of identifying biomarkers of importance in diabetes. They then had to decide which molecules could be potential future therapeutic agents and justify future research into their role in the disease.

Winning group

Evaluations carried out at the end of the day showed that the over 90% of the students felt the day directly contributed to what they were learning in college and felt that had a better understanding of diabetes research. In addition they were keen to study science at degree level and found the interactions with the scientists a useful and invaluable experience. Moreover the staff who attended with the students recommended that the day is repeated again next year. The researchers at CADET thoroughly enjoyed themselves too, and are currently working on extending the study day so that more students can attend. Then next day is scheduled for March 2013 and will hopefully become a regular, biannual event.

Researchers from CADET

 Some comments from students who attended the day:

“ ..Really enjoyed the Dragons’ Den session as it was a good insight into the real scientific world”

“..New found knowledge was very interesting and relevant to my future interests and courses…”

“The workbooks will be very useful in future study”

 “I not only learnt about the effects of diabetes but also about how funding is gained for research”

 “I learnt a lot and would really like to do more events like this”

“Everyone is nice and helpful”

“It was fun, hopefully coming back soon”

 “I really enjoyed working with scientists and asking them questions, that was the most important and interesting part”

Working with scientists investigating biomarkers of diabetes

Our engage with the experts A-Level Study days are always very popular and this one was no different.  It was fully booked within a couple of days of the date being advertised on the website!  We are delighted to annouce that we will be running it again on 21st March 2012, so if you would like to give your students the opportunity to take part and work with the scientists, please do get in touch.