More than a researcher and educator, Nina Woodrow’s (PhD) artistic flair inspires creative thinking and a yearning for learning. Museum of Brisbane is fortunate enough to have her on the team as a Learn Specialist. Drawing on a rich history of critical education, community arts and cultural development practice, Nina helps design MoB’s education programs. Her focus is on finding new and exciting ways to connect students with Brisbane’s histories, artists and contemporary cultures, and inspiring in our city’s children a desire for lifelong learning.
What is MoB Learn Assist?
MoB Learn Assist is a valuable initiative that works directly with schools and education providers to bring children, young people and educators from low socio-economic backgrounds to engaging and creative learning experiences outside the walls of their school. What Learn Assist does is create new opportunities for these groups to participate in the cultural life of our city.
How does MoB’s Learn Assist program benefit the children that participate?
MoB’s Learn Assist program links children and young people to others in their community, supporting them to develop a clearer sense of belonging and self-awareness. Research has shown that visits to cultural and civic institutions help to strengthen critical thinking, encourage confidence, empathy, creativity and establish social connections.
What activities are the school and community groups engaged in while at Museum of Brisbane?
Housed in an art and social history museum, MoB’s Learn programs leverage the stories of our city filtered through the amazing talent of our local artists and curators to inspire the next generation of thinkers and creators.
MoB Learn Assist offers a wide range of educational opportunities inspired by the exhibitions, collections and also MoB’s sandstone home – the unique, heritage-listed City Hall building. We design workshops and tours that cater for students of all levels and link with their classroom learnings across humanities, social science, history, design, visual arts and First Nations cultural learning.
Since the program commenced in 2019, how many children has the program been able to reach and what has it been like watching it grow?
Is there a selection criterion for MoB Learn Assist? What makes a school or community group eligible to participate?
To be eligible for MoB Learn Assist schools need to indicate a value of 1,000 or less on the Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage (ICSEA). ICSEA allows for fair comparisons among schools by determining a level of educational advantage based on geographic and socioeconomic factors.
In 2021/22, for the first time, the program was also extended as an outreach experience in partnership with community organisations. The aim is to reach further, to work towards making as big an impact as possible on the educational lives of children and young people in Brisbane. So far, we have developed customised programs for groups of visitors supported by Smith Family (supporting educationally disadvantaged young people) and Little Dreamers (supporting young carers).
Can you share with us a memorable moment from working on this program or favourite piece of feedback?
Children and young people often express excitement and gratitude, talking about how novel this experience is for them and about wanting to share the experience with their family. There are other moments of silence where the look of wonder on the students’ faces is so moving and you just know this experience has allowed them to transcend the everyday and will be a lasting memory.
What does the Museum’s Learn team hope to achieve moving forward?
Our aspiration is to develop the MoB Learn Assist program and make it bigger and better, offering the life-changing potential of engagement in the arts to more of those who are currently missing out.