Remembering the impact of Partition

 

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Cedar Mount Pupils in the Memories of Partition exhibition

With the 70th anniversary of the independence of India and Pakistan happening earlier this year, Manchester Museum worked with members of Manchester’s South Asian community to explore the experiences and legacies of the creation of India and Pakistan in 1947, with a dedicated exhibition space up on our third floor to share this between August 2017 and January 2018.  Memories of Partition is a collaboration between Manchester Museum, Manchester BME network, Royal Exchange Theatre and Ahmend Iqball Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre. The exhibition showcases six films featuring community members sharing their connections to Partition.

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Trinity CofE School pupil in Memories of Partition

Partition is not an easy subject area to discuss, with an estimated 15 million people being displaced in possibly the largest mass migration in human history, especially not with pupils who cannot understand why this topic might be relevant for them even if they are of South Asian heritage. This is why Cat Lumb, Secondary and Post-16 Coordinator (Humanities & Arts) and Amy McDowall (Primary Coordinator) decided to invite a small number of Primary and Secondary pupils to visit the exhibition and also speak with the community participants involved; to see if it would make a difference to the way they thought about this tumultuous and difficult time in history and to help them write a response detailing their own impressions to share with those whom Partition has impacted.

Pupils had an opportunity to spend time on the Memories of Partition exhibition and make connections with the objects presented there, as well as watch some of the oral history films created to accompany the exhibition. All of these films – featuring community members either directly, or indirectly, affected by Partition – are available on the Museum’s YouTube channel and one with Dr. Gandhi (who spoke with all school groups) is highlighted below. [Please note: content is sensitive and may be upsetting.]

 

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Primary School pupils collected images of ways that artist Reena Kallat represented ‘borders’ through nature

After seeing the exhibition, pupils were also able to view the stunning artwork of acclaimed artist Reena Saini Kallat, whose newly-commissioned sculpture Chorus can be seen alongside works that include a series of hybridised animals that represent various nations in conflict.

This thought-provoking exhibition animates the museum with new meanings and inquiries into ideas of identity, memory, history and the natural world, and links in with the topic of Partition.

 

 

Cedar Mount pupils

Cedar Mount Pupils crafting their responses

 

 

It was in this creative environment pupils were asked to collate a response to share with community participants.

For the Secondary students, this was done before speaking with any of them, and demonstrates their newly developed empathetic responses to an event that many knew about but had little understanding of:

 

 

 

 

“Now that I’ve learnt about Partition I feel disgusted and really upset imagining people being murdered and witnessing so many deaths at a young age” – KS3 Pupil

“I feel that although it was a time of suffering and sadness some people used it as the start of a new life with new experiences. It was a chance to learn new things as people moved abroad, however I still feel sad that the experience was a stressful time” – KS4 Pupil

“I’ve learnt that this is bigger than I thought because they had to go elsewhere and there was a lot of conflict.” – KS3 Pupil

Their written response was detailed and we can only share small snippets here, but some are insightful and particularly astute:

“I went through pain and conflict; being separated, abandoned and lonely; scenes of fighting, killing torturing; but we never knew why at the time; because we were young.”

“I went through many challenges, emotions and struggles; such as leaving home, and leaving our possessions like jewellery, money and memories behind. I was filled with fear as many were being killed. I went through pain and suffering as well as misery and grief. There was lots of bloodshed.”

“I came to a different country. I felt upset and uncomfortable. I missed my old house along with my family. It was confusing and scary.”

“Now I feel happy that I am living in such a developed country which not only has improved me it has improved a lot of other people, but even though I am happy, I am still sad that I have lost something un-priceable [sic.] like my childhood memories.

The Primary School pupils created a group poem following their interview with Dr. Gandhi, which can be seen here: I came from a city full of rumours. 

Some teachers also shared their thoughts about the day:

“[The activities] gave the children the chance to think about the same issue from a different perspective. It was like it gave them layers of depth to the issue.”

“It gave the Indian/Pakistini children a sense of their own history and culture. It was also interesting to hear that some people thought partition was a good thing.”

“The children came away with a greater depth and understanding of partition. It was fantastic. Thank you so much.”

With thanks to University of Manchester’s Widening Participation Department who helped to fund this project. 

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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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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.

Lever Prize winners 2015

“Fantastic. Exactly what the students wanted” – Teacher feedback

We are thrilled to announce that Manchester Museum has won the prestigious Lever Prize 2015, for our Real Life Science programme. So we are eagerly  getting started with the plans for this year’s developments.

The Lever Prize is judged by the North West Business Leadership Team (NWBLT) in partnership with Arts & Business. As the 2015 winners, the Real Life Science programme will receive a generous contribution of £10,000 and the opportunity to collaborate with some of the region’s most influential business leaders.

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“It was good to have the experts talk to us about their work” – Student feedback

Our successful Real Life Science programme encourages secondary and post-16 students to develop practical investigative skills through an array of science workshops, supported by Manchester Museum’s collection and displays. Currently we have strong links with academic research, with all of our workshops being delivered by scientists from across The University of Manchester. We are excited to work with the NWBLT to enhance this programme by incorporating cutting-edge applications of science in industry.

“Our demonstrator was very knowledgeable and delivered an excellent session” – Teacher feedback

In addition to enhancing existing sessions, we hope to introduce new innovative sessions based on real life industry examples, including topics such as:

Biomimicry – Engineering and science innovations inspired by nature

Sustainability –  Current issues challenging industry, modern solutions and eco-design 

We are very much looking forward to a productive year working with the NWBLT. So keep an eye out for updates on our progress and new opportunities during the year!

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