University of Cambridge Museums

Projects, events and news from the University of Cambridge Museums

Helping you to find a ‘way in’

During the past week, a fellow PGCE Primary teacher trainee and I have been inspired by the education departments of The Museum of Cambridge, The Sedgwick Museum, The Museum of Classical Archaeology and The Fitzwilliam Museum.  What these museums have to offer families, schools and people of all ages means that whether you’re 18 months old, pushing 100 or any of the years in between these educational teams are thinking and planning for you, respecting and valuing your ideas.  Between the artefacts, collections and buildings themselves there is an infinite number of stories to tell.

A way inThe Fitzwilliam Museum was our home for the majority of the week, where we seized the opportunity to make connections and explore age appropriate strategies that elicit and scaffold curiosity towards the unearthing and articulation of a web of ideas.  Through a three way dialogue between subject, object and the museum educator/facilitator skills of observation are guided and honed as meaning and understanding are threaded and shaped by emergent narrative. Reading a painting with your imagination and appealing to all your senses sparks confidence in the reader.  In engaging guided sessions the familiar features are enhanced, questions are celebrated. Tempted by fascination, thoughts safely flow.

Within the walls of a museum there is an incredible potential to recognise objects, not as distant relics but instead as significant pieces of information and connected through time.  The museum skilfully brings the past into the present moment, as the real object stands before you or indeed you can journey back in time to meet the creator.  In a powerful moment of realisation the familiarity and humanness of many of the collections lead to a mutual respect between observer and artefact, lending validity to their own point of view.

If you fancy an epic adventure then find, tell and create stories out of the multitude of characters, locations and situations; interact, interpret and become authors through your self-expression; be artists, scientists, philosophers or put on your deer stalker, join up the dots and solve a mystery.  These museums are collections of ideas waiting to be inherited, carefully presented in recognition of the significance of the experience, enjoy a new age of exploration.

Peter Bardsley, Primary PGCE student at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge

One comment on “Helping you to find a ‘way in’

  1. Pingback: Spiral Bound | University of Cambridge Museums

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