As the still (relatively) new Abbey Learning Officer at Reading Museum, I have been following around the Session Leaders to find out more about our Sessions and why they love delivering them.
Many Session Leaders here at Reading Museum have been here a long time (some have been here for 15 years!) so I wanted an over view of their experience of teaching school’s sessions here at the museum.
I talked to Richard Ousley about his favourite session, Victorian Child at Work. Richard has a background in drama and works for the museum in different capacities, like many of our Session Leaders; he also works as a museum assistant. This means that there is very little he doesn’t know about the museum.
Richard talks about what he enjoys in Victorian Child at Work below:
Victorian Child at Work
Victorian Child at Work is set in the fictional house of the wealthy Nethercotte family in Reading. The Session Leader takes on the role of one of the senior servants, maybe one of the senior housemaids; or in my case as the character of Joseph Munby the Head Gardener (complete with a slightly questionable accent!)
The children, also in role as poorer Victorian children looking for work at the house, are guided by our characters through the range of jobs and duties performed by the servants of the house; from lighting fires each morning, spending 2-3 days doing the families laundry to the more unpleasant jobs such as cleaning the chimneys and emptying chamber pots from under peoples beds.
They also get the opportunity to impress the young lord and lady of the family with their Victorian manners in the hope of getting the offer of a job at the house there and then.
Visiting schools often take part in the Victorian Child at Work sessions in conjunction with our Victorian Schoolroom to give the children an insight into what their lives could have been like in the early Victorian era, working hard to help support their families in the days before children had yet the chance to go to school.
Observing School Sessions
I have very much enjoyed observing Victorian Child at Work. I find it interesting that children weren’t required to attend school until 1880 and many still left school at a young age to get work. The children attending our sessions often have interesting questions about the lives of children in the Victorian era and how those lives changed towards the end of that period.
Richard really enjoys teaching this session (amongst other sessions) and we are certainly glad to have someone on hand with so much knowledge and passion for history.
This term we will be sharing more experiences from our fantastic Session Leaders so keep an eye out for more posts about what we do here at Reading Museum!
You can find out more about what the Education Team offers on our website: http://www.readingmuseum.org.uk/explore/schools