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Stef Woof: My placement at PHM

Stef Woof: My placement at PHM

11 June 2013

Stef Woof: My placement at PHM

We hear from Stef Woof who was a placement student with the Learning Team at the museum from December 2012 until May 2013.

I’ve been an admirer of the People’s History Museum since the grand re-opening in 2010. My first visit was during my PGCE. As a trainee Secondary English teacher, I was impressed by the distinctive use of language throughout the exhibitions, which makes the information relevant and accessible to visitors. The Mini Theatre, which is installed in the centre of Main Gallery One, became the focus of my second visit in 2011. It pleased me to see such a learning resource right in the centre of the stories and collections of the museum, not tucked away in some stuffy classroom. When the opportunity presented itself to work closely with the Learning Department at PHM, I didn’t hesitate.

During my volunteer placement with the Learning Team, I have assisted with the research and development of a brand new creative writing workshop. We have worked in close partnership with local writer Ben Mellor, teachers and learners from Greater Manchester’s schools and museums and galleries across the North West. This dialogic approach to development has produced Spitting Fire; a workshop that takes inspiration from the political speeches and oral histories in the PHM archives to create poetry and prose.

The pilot of Spitting Fire took place in the Mini Theatre; the perfect setting to listen to evocative words from the past. Learners were delighted to hear Ben’s own spoken word poetry, and listened intently to the voices from the archives. Lively discussions about what they saw in their minds eye when they heard the recordings resulted in some perfectly wonderful lines of poetry:

As warm and as fierce as fiery red…

…like a rumble of thunder exploding over an old church…

…sharp like a thorn on a blooming rose…

…A wise owl through a pearly night sky…

…a grand old beast.

I have enjoyed every moment of my placement, but observing these learners was definitely a highlight. They represented the hard work of everyone involved, and the great potential of the workshop going forward.

I feel proud to have worked with such a creative and professional team of people and I am immensely grateful to everyone at PHM for giving me the opportunity to work on such a valuable project.

Stef Woof, placement student with the Learning Team