Reach 04: Getting started with schools

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By Jennifer Hilder (PhD Intern)

Our fourth newsletter is another fantastic showcase of the valuable work the College of Arts is doing outside the university. In particular, this edition has shown the College getting to grips with schools and starting to interact with the curriculum, using the expertise the university has to improve the learning experience for young people in Glasgow and beyond.

The first example is the project which I have been working on myself, with the Iris Project. The Iris Project is a UK-wide charity that supports Latin teaching in state schools, particularly where there is little or no other engagement with the classical world. Thanks to the efforts of student volunteers, the children have not only learnt some Latin but improved their knowledge of the English language too, raising literacy standards.

School children played a big role in the Scots Words and Place-names (SWAP) project too. They used social media (Facebook and Twitter) to source information from local people about words and place-names that could be entered into their online database. They then advertised a competition for school children through the schools intranet Glow – it was very successful and the prizes were awarded by the university’s then-rector, Charles Kennedy, at an exciting awards ceremony.


Academics in Dress & Textiles put on a workshop series called ‘ReINVENT’ to kickstart a discussion about how things were made, what equipment was needed, and how the whole operation was powered. After attracting a significant level of interest, this approach is informing the National Museum of Scotland’s redesign of its new galleries. At the Glasgow Science Festival, over sixty secondary school children will take part in a workshop recreating nineteenth-century designs using natural dyes – bringing science and arts together.

Raymond Boyle has been working alongside UEFA (probably the dream of many schoolboys), to design a module in their very popular Diploma in Football Management. UEFA is now expanding and developing this scheme further with Raymond’s help.

Many of you may have seen the result of another of our projects – the restoration of Stirling Castle Palace and the new gallery dedicated to displaying the Stirling Heads. Sally Rush helped to attract 17% more visitors for the Historic Scotland property as a result of applying her research to this much-needed redevelopment.

Another exciting and unusual project took place not in Scotland but in Canada, as Minty Donald and her partner Nick Miller became artists in residence in Calgary. Their art helped local people to engage with the local Bow River and its watershed in various ways, by bringing this resource and its potential to their attention. For many this was an unforgettable experience. They are hoping to do something similar with the River Clyde in Glasgow – watch this space!

One of Whistler's etchings.
One of Whistler’s etchings.

Glasgow University is incredibly lucky to hold a large collection of Whistler’s drawings, paintings, and etchings. Thanks to the hard work of Margaret MacDonald his etchings are now available online for the general public, for academics, and for auction houses. This highly praised project has made new discoveries and shone a new light on many of his well-known etchings.

Finally, one of the first projects to come out of forty years’ hard work on the Historical Thesaurus produced in the College of Arts, ‘Mapping Metaphor’ is an exciting and original approach to language. An online resource that will be useful for researchers but also for historical novelist searching for accurate thought patterns, the project provides visualisations showing when and how metaphors began to be used. Again, this is a project that can be very useful in the classroom from schools to universities. It is a tool that can provide an insight into where meaning comes from and show connections between different aspects of the English language.

Hopefully you have enjoyed hearing about all the connections we’ve made so far. If you have any ideas for working with schools, or other industries, or with us, please get in touch or @GlasgowUniArts.

Post Author: Nicole Cassie

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