Community & Learning Intern Blog – Meghan's first week

29 June 2015

Stowe-House-Marble-Saloon-Intern

Hi, I’m Meghan and along with Ella I am interning for the summer with the Community & Learning team at Stowe House.

This is a really exciting time for Stowe and the Stowe House Preservation Trust with their new Welcome  and Discovery Centre opening in August. This has also meant the opportunity for a brand new Learning Space which was put to full use during my first week.

After arriving, settling in, and trying to get to know the house with its hundreds of metres of corridor and seemingly endless rooms, Tuesday was my first opportunity to see Natalie and Kelly, Stowe’s Community & Learning team, in action. Portraits were on the agenda with Key Stage two from a local school. This was a really exciting day both for me and the pupils taking part. Activities ranged from making their own living portraits through dressing up and standing within picture frames to painting their self-portrait. Having only seen the running of informal learning activities before, it was really interesting to see Natalie and Kelly delivering formal learning in an innovative and engaging way. Particularly using the pupils as actors and participants, they were able to engage with the history and learning objectives by becoming the person or part of the painting.

This was continued with the early years group the following day who took part in House Detectives. Whilst the Key Stage two group had been investigating people who had lived at Stowe through their portraiture, this younger group were able to engage with questions like ‘who lived in a house like this?’ by searching for clues in the State Rooms. Learning was creative and accessible. The pupils created fuzzy-felt faces and painted their own happy and sad faces in order to investigate emotions. In the afternoon, I delivered a session which looked at clothing – sorting materials into piles which represented the clothes of the rich and poor before some dressing up to show what different members of the household would have worn throughout time.

The school visits for the week concluded with a mixed Key Stage three and Key Stage four visit on Thursday afternoon. The students worked through some self-led activities including investigating which Old Stoic they would have been and looking how they would interpret their house by sketching and annotating their alterations onto a plan. It was really interesting to see how Natalie and Kelly pitched the right level of learning and creativity to different age groups and how to make sure that all members of the group were engaged. It was a steep learning curve in how to adapt and alter tasks and events on the spot. It was also a great introduction to how Natalie and Kelly envision and deliver the learning programme at Stowe this experience will be invaluable when Ella and I deliver our project at the end of the summer. More on this will follow.