A successful element of the Oxford Skills for the Future programme has been the trainees independent projects. Trainees are set a challenge to develop an independent project from scratch. It provides the trainees with an opportunity to put into practice the skills and knowledge they have developed throughout their training. The following information is given to them at the start of the traineeship:
The aim of this project is to enable the trainee to show that they can independently plan, undertake and then clearly report on an original learning project of their choice related to education in a museum, garden or arboretum. The project should have a clear goal that is attainable in the time available and must be relevant to the work of the collection where it is based. A project report must be submitted to the Project Coordinator and Heads of Education for comment. The report must be well written, detailing aims of the project, intended learning outcomes, intended audience, how the project was planned, delivered and executed, what problems were encountered, how they were solved, how the project was evaluated and how things could be improved for the future. The project report needs to show an understanding and application of learning theory.
Trainees are encouraged to start thinking about their projects once they reach the half-way point of their traineeship. This includes meeting with the Project Co-ordinator and Heads of Education to chat through initial ideas and to gain encouragement and advice for developing ideas into a project plan. Trainees spend time researching their ideas, speaking to colleagues and external professionals, and if relevant, visiting other museums to gain inspiration. Trainees are then asked to submit an independent project proposal to the Project Co-ordinator and placement mentors. If everybody is happy with the proposal the projects are greenlit and the trainee can then start work on the project itself.
The current trainees have just started the delivery of their independent projects. They share an overview of their projects below:
My final project, Made in Mt Olympus, is an on-line film series of 4 one minute videos on select Ashmolean Greek objects in the style of a popular UK reality show. With the assistance of three Oxford Brookes Film Students and 9 Oxford University Museums and Collections staff as 'actors' I will bring the object's stories to life in a modern context by parodying the reality show. It is about connecting the drama of Greek mythology to the drama of reality show today, i.e. taking the past and making it current. The overall aim of this project is to bring the information to the 16-30 year old audience (museum visitors and non-visitors) through styles and outlets they are extremely familiar with and use in everyday life.
|Corie planning her project|
The films will be promoted on multiple social networks starting from behind the scenes all the way through to their premiers. The films will be released on the Ashmolean YouTube channel commencing on the week of the 7th of April. One video will be released each week that month.
I hope this project will raise awareness of the museum and its collections. I am also looking at the longevity of the project and how it can link into the Ashmolean's on-line educational resource page for teachers to replicate with their students.
|Filming in the Cast Gallery at the Ashmolean|
The idea for Craft Café developed when I recognized the potential to develop opportunities for adults to get together and get creative. I noticed that at Alice’s Day in Oxford, a day when the city is transformed into a wonderland of activities and events, there were very few creative activities I could join in with as an adult – and adults like getting crafty too! But it also works the other way round… at an evening event at the Ashmolean, when the crafts designed were primarily for grown-ups, adults were sometimes a little reluctant to get stuck in unsure of if the activities were meant for them, with a couple actually asking if they were allowed to participate! Adults do want to get creative as ‘knit & natter’ and ‘stitch & bitch’ groups springing up across the UK testify – it’s just about spreading the crafting love!
|Aisling delivering the first meeting of the Craft Cafe|
By creating Craft Café I wanted to provide a space for adults to come, relax, have a chat and do crafts – without needing the excuse of having a child with them. It just so happens I’ve also got access to an amazing museum crammed full of over a quarter of a million inspiring objects! The sessions will be informal and suitable for all adults - no previous skills or knowledge needed. Each session will start with a short tour of some objects in the galleries, before heading to the Museums’ Annexe to relax, chat and make a craft to take home.
For my final project, I will run a day workshop for KS3 students jointly at the Museum of the History of Science and the Botanic Garden. The subject is the history of medicine, focusing on the discovery, development and refinement of plants and other substances used as medicines. There will be a strong practical element on the day: The students will be handling accessioned objects from the Museum of the History of Science as well as using plants and other materials to process and create their own “medicines”. There are curriculum links in the scientific method, biology and chemistry. I was inspired by making ochre paint with KS2, they were fascinated by the physical processes to get from an unfamiliar object to a familiar one. I hope this session will inspire students to think creatively about science and feel that same fascination with the world.
|Rachel developing her project|
My final project, which is taking place within the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, is catered for an under 5s audience. It is hoped that the new activity trail I’ll be designing, will encourage under 5s and their families to visit the Museum more often, and help them engage with the Museum’s collections in fun and stimulating ways. Being restricted by the amount of things they can physically do, under 5s can struggle to join in with museum craft-based activities which require sufficient cutting, sticking and drawing skills. As a result, under 5s can often feel neglected, especially when they see their older siblings enjoying ‘making and doing’ activities. The new under 5s activity trail I’ll be designing, will not be craft-based, but multi-sensory focused, increasing its accessibility whilst meeting the developmental and learning needs of its audience.
|Jenny's 'Curious Cubs' multi-sensory bag|
Recently, I’ve visited Tring Natural History Museum to see the self-led activities they offer to under 5s and their families each Tuesday afternoon. The visit was really beneficial as it enabled me to learn more about how objects in the form of props and toys, which can be carried around (and worn!) in the galleries, can be used to provoke creative responses to museum collections through multi-sensory engagement and role play.