Saturday, 29 March 2014

Courses on working with children in museums – my training in Qatar

MIAI finally have time to reflect on the training I gave in Doha for UCL Qatar earlier this month. What a privilege to work there. The training venue was the stunning Museum of Islamic Art.

The museum scene in Qatar is very exciting, with lots of new institutions in the planning stages, including an amazing Children’s Museum. Although it has no building yet, staff are already doing ground-breaking work. My training was primarily for museum practitioners, from there and other museums, but I was delighted to have some library delegates too.

The first course was on provision for babies and under 5s. We talked about early child development and the role of cultural organisations in supporting it. There were great discussions on effective activities for families with young children, and lovely ideas for making them enjoyable and fully participative.

Day two was on working with primary age children. I loved the debates about how children learn, and ways to engage them and break down barriers to use – not least that there is not yet a culture of museum visits in Qatar. Some brilliant plans were made for supporting formal education and family learning.

The last day’s course was on working with children with special educational needs. The discussions on learning difficulties and strategies for nurturing SEN children’s learning and enjoyment were excellent. I was tremendously impressed with the initiatives delegates devised and are going now to put in place – wonderful inclusive, multi-sensory, interactive approaches.

Working in Qatar was an extraordinary opportunity. I learnt so much and met fascinating people. Many thanks to everyone for making me feel so welcome.