Newcastle University's Museum of Antiquities, which developed the project, known as Reticulum, is the first University museum to be shortlisted for the Gulbenkian Prize, which is the largest arts award in the UK.
Reticulum started in 2000 as a joint venture between the Museum of Antiquities and the first schools in the Blyth Valley to explore the use of IT in teaching History, particularly the history of the Romans in Northumberland.
Since then, it has developed into a completely new method of engaging children’s interest in their past in a way which has delighted the children, their teachers, the Museum staff and the wider archaeological world.
Now the Reticulum website and Teachers’ Pack have been launched so the rest of the world can see what has been exciting the children of Northumberland.
The Reticulum project is regularly cited as an example of best practice and is being used beyond the Blyth Valley and, indeed, beyond Northumberland.
What makes Reticulum different?
• Reticulum is a completely integrated learning resource, usable by families and schools alike. The lively website, featuring the children’s artwork, presents high quality information in an exciting and accessible format. The teacher’s pack and website combined provide teachers with a complete educational resource.
• The Project has stretched children of all abilities allowing each to feel that they have a valuable contribution to make. This has increased their confidence to question the evidence and has encouraged them to develop their own opinions about the broader issues of their past and its presentation.
• The constantly developing approach has been tested throughout in a classroom environment. This has resulted in a comprehensive teacher’s pack.
• The Project doesn’t take the usual approach that concentrates on villas and towns but explores life in the north of England before, during and after the Occupation, looking at native settlement sites as well as Hadrian’s Wall and the Roman forts.
• Teachers who have been involved in the Project have reported using the methodology to teach other periods of history with excellent results.
• The Project has linked the children with professional working in the area, not just archaeologists and students from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne but also members of the Hadrian’s Wall Education Forum, The Northumberland National Park, and English Heritage. This has enabled the children to benefit from the latest research as well as develop their social skills.
• The Project has given the children a sense of ownership in the past. They now have the skills to unlock the secrets of museum collections, skills which will last them all their lives.
• The project has turned the children from just consumers to proactive learners.
The Teachers’ Resource Pack, designed to be used in conjunction with the website, was produced in October 2003. The highly professional and colourful pack contains teaching modules complete with activity ideas, resource sheets and support materials which will enable teachers to teach Roman history and archaeology at Key Stage 2 in and out of the classroom. Thinking for Learning approaches are reflected throughout the Pack which incorporates specific Thinking Skills activities.
Museum and Antiquities Education Officer, Jo Catling, said: 'The Reticulum Methodology enables children to explore the concept of ‘the past’, fundamental to the study of history and to gain appropriate language. It also introduces them to the wide variety of evidence obtained from artefacts and how this can be used to learn about people living in the past. '
The Pack is designed to be used in conjunction with the Reticulum website at http://museums.ncl.ac.uk/reticulum
Notes for Editors
1. The Reticulum Project was originally funded by the Department of Education and Employment’s Museums and Galleries Education Programme. The second stage of this funding (MGEP2) has funded the new Teachers’ Resource Pack. The Arts and Humanities Research Board has also been instrumental in supporting the Project which has now been replaced by the Flavinus Project which will use the Reticulum Methodology whilst working with the isolated rural schools in Northumberland. The Flavinus Project has acquired three year’s funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
2. The pack is available free to all first schools in Northumberland but can also be purchased from Mrs Jo Catling, Museum of Antiquities, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RU at a cost of £25.
3. PS. Reticulum means 'net' in Latin. It also is the name for part of a cow’s stomach, but that’s Latin for you.
Issued by Newcastle University Press Office. For further information, please contact Jo Catling on 0191 222 5516, Andrew Parkin on 0191 222 8996, Lindsay Allason-Jones on 0191 2227846, or Melanie Reed on 0191 222 5791.
published on: 16th January 2004