In our partnership with Leeds Museums and Galleries, we are extremely fortunate to be able to visit Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds Discovery Centre, Leeds Art Gallery, Lotherton Hall and Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills. Our Trainees have thoroughly enjoyed their experiences here, provided by the educational team at these sites. Kate Fellows, Head of Learning and Access, discusses the importance of carrying on their work with schools and children and how schools can use their resources in these challenging times.

We know that using object based learning can be a catalyst for change. Pupils engaging in arts at school are 20% more likely to vote and three times more likely to get a degree (Robson, 2003: 22) and to develop the creative thinking needed for ‘entrepreneurship and innovation’ (Confederation of British Industry, 2012, cited in the Durham Commission 2019: 33). They are 38% more likely to report good health (Leadbetter & O’Connor, 2013), interact better with their neighbours and build stronger communities (Ings et al., 2010, cited in Durham Commission 2019: 40). All of these are really needed now, and are a clear stepping stone in recovery curriculums.

In terms of catching up academically, museum objects and the stories they tell, can usually teach a learning point more clearly, concisely and memorably than a paper based exercise. Examples we talked about at the Discovery Centre included using snail shells to teach climate change, taxidermy for evolution or adaptation, numismatics (coins and medals) for maths, chronological understanding for history and leadership in sport. It doesn’t have to be a museum object (I mean, that’s nice if it is, but it doesn’t have to be). Use anything you have at home or at school that helps your teaching point, and that can probably be cleaned! Can you use outdoor spaces? Can the environment become your giant object?

Museums and object based learning are a good starting point for discussions about commemoration, loss and bereavement as they build communities. As a service, we are gathering stories of lockdown for the future. We are living through history.

Do you remember sitting in the SCITT when I came in last September and I asked you to find something that represented you in your bags and pockets? We built a mini museum from the objects. Try this with your tutor group to get to know them, to start a difficult conversation, or to talk about concepts in the historically abstract. It’s a very human level to connect on and will help build your recovery curriculum.

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