Category Archives: Learning
Summer has arrived with an almighty heat wave, but the rising temperatures are not stopping us from working away to get everything ready for what should be a fun, and rather silly summer around the museum.
For me, that involved heading into schools across Coventry again for another assembly, this time focusing on our Walking with Beasts exhibition from the BBC. I’m really excited about this exhibition; it’s been lots of fun researching for the assembly so now the exhibition is open I can make sense of the rather long names associated with some of the animals featured in there (I mean Australopithecus…really???).
As part of this assembly I was kindly offered some objects from the BBC, that were used in filming, to take into the schools with me to show the pupils. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, so when 2 men walked into the office carrying the head of a Sabre Tooth Cat and a Gastornis I was a little taken aback. They were so much bigger than I had expected, but look absolutely incredible. Even though I knew they were not the real thing and only made as replicas for the TV series, I still found it creepy to touch them, probably because taxidermy freaks me out, and these honestly do seem more real than some of the actual taxidermy animals we have in the museum… just don’t tell the curators I said that! Regardless of how life-like they are, we couldn’t resist having a few silly pictures taken with them around the office before they got boxed up ready to be taken with me on my travels around the city.
It also wouldn’t be summer prep time without our annual cutting up day with the family learning officer, Mel, as she gets ready for the influx of families coming in to the arts and crafts sessions during the holidays. Kitchen rolls, egg boxes and plastic bottles are being collected and lots of paper and templates have been cut to size and I think it was all worth it when we have children give us excellent results including a very snazzy Harry Potter themed castle! There will be lots more to come over the summer so keep checking what’s on everyday for you to get involved with.
11th March 2011. Georgie Clark. Harris School, A Church of England Sports College.
I’ve had such an interesting week with Herbert Media but unfortunately today is my last day! I completed various different tasks such as filing, photocopying, researching, printing, shredding! ect. Although, not once was I asked to make tea! As well as these small tasks, I also took part in many other activities such as sound recording, filming and podcasting.
Monday, my first day, was mostly an induction. Rich and I took a look around the galleries. I learned many things about the history of Coventry which I was not aware of before, for example, there is a lot more to learn about Lady Godiva than what I originally thought! I particularly liked the Two Tone and Coventry City Football section of the exhibitions as I am a CCFC fan and also interested in old Two Tone bands like The Specials and Selecta! ;D
The ‘All Dressed Up’ exhibition was extremely eye-opening to me as I am studying fashion in my artwork at school, the exhibition consists of clothing from the 1890’s, 1920’s and 1950’s, so the pictures I have taken of the vintage clothing range will be a big help with my Historical Fashion Project. As well as this, Jo kindly donated an early 1980’s American Durian dress for me to borrow to wear in the ‘Eco’ round at the Miss Junior Coventry finals this weekend, thank you Jo! Wish me luck! 😀
The first half of Tuesday I was in the Video Editing Suite with Jim helping him with.. (believe it or not) editing a film! He showed me how to use the editing software on the computer and what needs to be done in the process of editing a long lecture and cutting it down to make a shorter, more to the point, informative film. I realised that film editing takes a great deal of time and has many factors to it which makes it quite tedious! During the second half of Tuesday I researched prices of film recording equipment and Technic Decks for Den. After, I sat in on a sound recording for a podcast, which will be on the Herbert website, with Daz, Rich and Sally. I think, the fact that The Herbert produces podcasts and sound files enabling blind people to hear and listen to the events that are happening in the near future is a great idea.
On Wednesday I had more of a hands on practical look at the goings on in the recording studio. I spent the whole day with Daz and the students taking the Star Course who aim to gain a better understanding of music production and sound engineering. This was great for me seen as I am hoping to be a sound engineer in my future career. Daz started off the day by recapping the students about last weeks work and then did a few recordings in the band room of each instrument individually. Throughout the day each student had a go at adjusting the sound of the instrument on Cubase, using techniques such as compressing and reduction with noise gates. The final result was a four-minute reggae style song.
Thursday was an interesting day! I took part in some filming with Simon, we went to the Drug Clinic – CDT (Community Drug Team). We were filming a short informative programme which lasts for about five minutes. It consists of information for drug users about how to be safer when using, for example; not sharing needles, washing hands, ect. In the afternoon I accompanied Rich and Daz in the recording studio where they held a talk with nine of the students from Herewood College, a school which specialises in education for students with disabilities, diverse and complex support requirements. The students are all aspiring sound engineers, producers and performers. We spoke about; genres of music, recording in the studio, musical careers, advice about talking to performers, the social skills used and aspects of music needed for an artist to ‘make it’ in the music industry. For me, it was inspirational to see just how passionate the students are about music. The course they are taking allows them to express themselves through creative ways in which they feel they have independence, yet still the support needed.
Although my weeks work experience placement was with Herbert Media, I also learned a great deal about The Museum and Art Gallery. In my opinion, I think that The Herbert uses a variety of different ways to successfully interest young students and make learning about the history of Coventry enjoyable through an easy, fun and creative way!
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to spend time at Herbert Media, It has given me a better understanding about what goes on in the media section of the world of work!
Finally after months of preparations we are ready to open our doors to the hundreds of families we are expecting over the next few months. We have already had our first schools through the doors earlier in the week, but next week it will be the turn of our family visitors as they explore our Secret Egypt exhibition and take part in our hands-on family activities over February half term and beyond.
My main priority as Family Learning Officer was to provide a variety of workshops that will encourage our families to explore and engage with the themes within our Secret Egypt exhibition. This is not always as easy as it sounds as there are so many different ages, tastes and abilities to suit! This is where working as part of the Learning Team is of great benefit as all our research for the schools sessions, including many visits to other galleries and museums, has helped to positively shape the plans for the family programme. Here I was able to identify what topics to focus on, what had the most potential to be developed into creative workshops and what would further encourage learning outside of the classroom.
I have tried to use all this new knowledge and research to work on the content for the next 20 workshops which cover all the holidays from now until June, early years sessions and the ‘bring your dad’ event day!.
This has included:
- Working on the content first and then with the designers on the look and layout of a family trail that encourages visits all the permanent galleries, promotes the use of our Secret Egypt family break out space (more details below) and also combines with an art and craft activity that we will then use to create a fantastic Egyptian display to show our other visitors!
- Ordering stacks of unusual and exciting materials, cutting up decorative papers, metals and card, working out templates and making examples, all to make sure we are all prepared for our very popular art and craft sessions.
- Co-ordinating the use of our Studio space so our family visitors can use it as an extra activity/break out area. Here we have designed a make-and-take activity that can be done without the need for a facilitator! So, if the activity room downstairs or the exhibition becomes too full, then there is always an area for families to go and do something.
- Learning about our 3000 year old Egyptian artefacts and how to use this information for family object handling sessions. Our families will get the chance to handle genuine objects and try on costume that would have been used by ancient Egyptians.
Printing off hundreds of trails, writing up marketing content and working on a timetable for our family activity facilitators has meant for a very busy 6 months. I am now really looking forward to the families coming in and being able to enjoy the benefits of a lot of hard work for such a fantastic exhibition!
We look forward to welcoming you!
It with a mixture of pride, sadness and excitement that I leave the Herbert after nearly 16 years service. I am tremendously proud of what we have achieved here – especially in the last 5 years with the new development and the success of the learning team’s education service to schools and families.
I am very sad at having to leave all my colleagues and team-mates. I’ve enjoyed a fantastic relationship with the staff here and I will miss that massively. This is particularly the case for the members of the Learning Team who I know I will miss enormously. I have been very lucky managing such committed, professional, talented and inspiring museum professionals over the years.
I have enjoyed many highlights in my time here – the winning of the Museums & Heritage Award in 2005 with Triangle Theatre for ‘Coventry Kids in the Blitz’ was a great achievement, topped off by being invited to speak about it at a museum theatre conference in Canberra, Australia!
Also, the winning of the Guardian Family Friendly Museum of the Year in 2010 was testament to the efforts that the whole staff here have made to welcome families and interpret our collections for them. Alongside our nomination for the Art Fund Prize this has to go down as wonderful recognition of our standing in the museum world now.
I was extremely humbled by the winning of the Outstanding individual Award, at the recent “Best of the West” museum awards. Thank you so much to my colleagues who nominated me – I am deeply appreciative. I must admit it does feel a bit like one of those “lifetime achievement” awards they give to old actors just before everyone thinks they are going to die!
Finally, I get so much pleasure just walking round the Herbert and seeing schools, families and general visitors getting enjoyment from our fantastic galleries, workshops and facilities.
I am very satisfied that I am leaving the Herbert in a very healthy state, with so much to be proud of. Thank you again to all the team at Coventry Heritage & Arts Trust.
It has long been anticipated, but the wait is over and Secret Egypt has arrived!
The whole museum has been working hard at getting Secret Egypt on its way and ready for the grand opening, which happened last Thursday and was a huge success, so now it’s time to get under way with the flow of school groups who have booked on to visit us.
The learning team travelled around the country last year visiting different museums, looking around ancient Egyptian galleries and observing their schools sessions, all in the hope of achieving an enjoyable, engaging and exciting schools programme for the Herbert. The process of bringing this knowledge together with our own ideas, experience and interests has resulted in two Active Learning sessions, with one focusing on Life and Death in ancient Egypt and another one about hieroglyphics, called Scribe School.
Ancient Egypt is one of the most popular topics covered in the Key Stage 2 curriculum, so we were expecting the interest in Secret Egypt to be high and are thrilled at the various schools we have attracted from Coventry, Warwickshire and further a field.
As part of the preparation for these sessions the learning team have been busy reading, painting, writing, typing, emailing, training, sewing, knitting, shopping, cutting, tidying and even dressing up! It’s fair to say we’ve been a busy bunch over the last few months and the workload is not going to lessen for the duration of the exhibition as we physically deliver the school sessions, but it is one of the best things about being on a learning team, because we’re certainly kept on our toes, and no two days are the same.
So what will pupils be learning about as they come to the Herbert for the schools programme? Well, here a few facts and snippets of information to give you an idea:
- The ancient Egyptians didn’t think the brain was a very important organ, so rather than carefully preserving it in canopic jars or place it back into the body as they did with the heart during mummification, they would simply pull it out of the nose, throw it away and sometimes they even fed it to cats! EURGH!
- The process of mummification could take around 70 days altogether – that’s the same length of an average school term.
- The ancient Egyptians strongly believed in a number of Gods and also in carrying amulets with them in life and death to protect them. The most famous of these amulets are the eye of Horus and the Scarab beetle, but a favourite of ours in Bes. He’s a little dwarf-like figure who would protect children and families. His amulet was often placed in people’s homes and their bedrooms.
- Only 1 out of every 100 ancient Egyptians were able to read and write and they were always boys who trained as scribes.
- Hieroglyphics were first translated because of the discovery of the Rosetta Stone, which features the hieroglyphic, demotic and ancient Greek languages all saying the same thing.
Well that’s it from me for now… hope to see you at Secret Egypt!
Today’s Guest Author is Robin Johnson, Senior Learning Officer.
I recently attended the Museums Association annual conference in Manchester. The MA arrange seminars and a trade show for delegates who attend for free and are not taking part in the main conference sessions. I got very excited whilst listening to the plans to redevelop and reinterpret Dover Castle’s secret wartime tunnels. These are due to re-open in time for the 71st anniversary (yes, it’s deliberate apparently) of the evacuation of Dunkirk in 1940. You will be able to virtually shoot down a German bomber via a fantastic projection system in the tunnels. Upon hearing this news I wasted no time in quickly texting my colleagues and began the arrangements for a professional “away-day” next year. See here for info about Dover Castle.
One of the more interesting trade stands was for ‘OOKL’, a website which has the very ambitious aim to “Provide access to every object in every venue on the planet”. In order to do this they are relying on members of the public to mass upload content (i.e. photos of objects) onto their website. It is early days, but the website looks great so far.
As always with these kind of events, the real value of the day was the (and I shudder to even write the word) ‘networking’ opportunities it presents. I did manage to speak to a lot of people – some I knew well from my university days and some who were new to me. I particularly enjoyed all the conversations about the future of Renaissance in the Regions – it seems no-one is exactly sure. Although at the time of writing I am cautiously optimistic.
To end the day, we visited Manchester Art Gallery. I have always been a big admirer of their Clore Interactive Gallery and I greatly enjoyed their new interactive exhibit using mirrors to create the effect that you are doing a star jump. As you can see from the photo, it may remind older readers of a famous Dick Emery move from the 1970s….
Robin Johnson, Senior Learning Officer
To commemorate the 70th anniversary since the Coventry Blitz the Herbert has all sorts of events and projects happening… in fact the whole of Coventry has lots of things going on. We’ll be hosting a Blitz family day in conjunction with the Coventry Transport Museum and one of the History Learning Officers is running a project called ‘We Will Remember Them’ where people can send in photographs of themselves, family members or friends who were a part of WW2 along with some information about who they were and what they did.
As a part of this project I have been delivering WW2 assemblies for local primary schools where we have been testing out an air raid siren, trying on a gas mask and helmet and most importantly learning about the lives of some of Coventry’s citizen’s who contributed towards the War Effort.
One of the people we have been looking at is Noreen Dalglish, an Ambulance driver for the Civil Defence. Noreen was only 20 years old when she joined the Civil Defence in 1938, a year before war was declared on Germany. She said that everyone knew the war was going to happen and rather than be forced into a job she wanted to choose what to do. At the time of joining the Ambulance service, Noreen did not possess a driving licence and instead had to learn as part of her training. When it came to taking her test she drove up a road and straight into a tree, but the Civil Defence needed as many Ambulance drivers as possible so they passed her as she hadn’t caused any damage to the car!
When describing what it was like to be driving out during a blackout with a full uniform on she said, “You’re driving in the dark with your gas mask on, you couldn’t see or hear anything – or breathe! It was horrible. And you had your gas outfit on. All the trousers and the jackets and everything. And driving in that… it was awful. It was like driving down a dark tunnel with a blanket over your head. It was really awful.”
The school holidays are well under way now, which should mean a quieter time for the learning team as we mostly work with schools, but for our family learning officer, Mel, it means all systems go! She has been busy getting everything in place for the ‘Face up to Summer’ activities that are taking place in the museum throughout the holidays, which so far have been going really well and producing some lovely examples of art work by the children (check the pictures out to see some of the results).
I’ve particularly been enjoying the school holiday activities because I’ve been spotting lots of children from schools I visited just before the schools broke up. I went around schools in Coventry delivering assemblies called ‘All about Apes’ to promote the summer temporary exhibition ‘Face to Face’. During the assemblies I kept telling all the pupils that if they spotted me during the summer at the museum they had to come up to me and remind me of what I’d been teaching them that day…… I’ve lost count of how many children have been finding me and telling me the facts about apes that they remember, so I’m very impressed with them all!
Last week we had a professional story-teller in from Annamation, who were creating stories in the Face to Face exhibition space with families. It was really fun to watch and very entertaining so we’re looking forward to them returning again next week.
Felt Fridays and object handling in the afternoons has been working really well too. This is something new for this summer; usually we have the drop-in art activities all week, but to offer something a bit more collections centred and focused Mel came up with these ideas. I popped into one of the object handling sessions and the families were asking lots of questions about the objects and the children were spending a lot of time exploring the objects and doing observational drawings of them. The atmosphere was relaxed and calm, which I think was what Mel needed after the running around involved for the drop-in activities all week.
By the time I post my next blog I’ll be well into going around schools for a WW2 assembly, so catch up with me again in a few weeks to read about some of the Coventry citizens who contributed to the war effort, including the story of Noreen Dalglish, an Ambulance driver from Coventry who happens to be the Grandmother of one of the learning officers here at the Herbert. Until then…have a happy summer time!