Tag archives: Creating Capacity

Friday, 15 July 2011

Supporting children with special educational needs in the cultural and heritage sector

It’s great to have a chance somewhat late in the day to reflect on a training course on engaging effectively with children with learning difficulties that I gave last week for Creating Capacity. The delegates were fantastic, and between them had very extensive experience of working with children and young people in museums, both local and national, archives, libraries and the cultural and heritage sector more widely. (Lovely to have Historic Royal Palaces represented.) We were able to explore the needs of children with learning disabilities in depth, and the barriers to access and learning that need to be overcome. The combination of the case studies that I had brought and the experiences of all the course members enabled us to identify the factors for successful activities and programmes. These came out as some of the most important:

•    partnership working
•    sensitive and non-patronising face-to-face communication
•    positive reinforcement and praise
•    simple language with no jargon
•    linking concepts to things children know and understand
•    active engagement
•    practical hands-on activities
•    multi-sensory approaches
•    activities that produce something tangible
•    flexibility
•    effective planning, monitoring and evaluation

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Working with teenagers in museums and galleries

I gave a course yesterday on engaging with young people for Creating Capacity. Although designed for anyone in the cultural heritage sector, in fact all the delegates were from museums and galleries, with responsibility either for learning or for audience development, so we were able to focus exclusively on those settings.

The discussions about teenagers’ needs and expectations and ways to meet them were fascinating. It was great to hear about fabulous initiatives from each of the delegates, and to have the opportunity to explore the success factors and the challenges, and the relative merits of one-off events and on-going projects. I found the debate about time-scales for the latter particularly interesting.

Not surprisingly, every successful event or programme we talked about – those the delegates had initiated, and the case studies I brought with me – featured active engagement by the young people involved, and a flexible approach that responded to individuals’ interests and skills. All also produced something tangible, either that the teenagers took away, or that could be shared with a wider audience. We heard about concerts of music written and performed by young people, about exhibitions curated by young people, about an online photography book, about animations shown in museums and online, about poetry slams and a whole lot more.

There were so many valuable discussions. The conversation about universal offers versus targeted promotions was an especially important one. Marketing and promotion were hotly debated. Social networking was seen as crucial, needless to say, but face-to-face communication scored very highly too. Everybody agreed the importance of partnership working. And under-scoring everything was the necessity for detailed planning and effective evaluation.

For anyone interested, there is more about my courses on working with teenagers in museums and galleries here.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Training courses on working with teenagers

I always love giving training on working with teenagers in libraries, and I was delighted to give a course at CILIP yesterday on this topic. There was loads of excellent debate about teenagers’ needs and expectations, and ways to engage with them effectively and make libraries relevant and attractive to them. With delegates from public libraries, maintained and independent school libraries, FE college libraries, plus the University of Malta, there were masses of useful ideas shared for promoting libraries and reading that could readily be transferred from one type of setting to another. We talked a lot about the value of involving teenagers in day-to-day activities and decision-making, and there were plenty of ideas about how to get this to happen. Good face-to-face communication is of course crucial, and everyone’s thoughts on getting this right were illuminating and valuable. The discussions about the impact of social networking on young people’s lives and the implications for libraries were fascinating. It was also very interesting to hear a range of experiences of using e-books for leisure reading and academic purposes. Many thanks to everyone who came.

I am giving a repeat course for Creating Capacity on working with teenagers in London on June 27, full details here. This one is not only for library staff but also practitioners from museums, galleries, archives and other culture and heritage organisations, so it will provide a great opportunity to gain ideas from a wide variety of settings.