The Robert Burns Birthplace Museum

Article excerpt

Learning is at the heart of the new Robert Burns Birthplace Museum: how Robert Burns learned, and how students visiting the site learn about Burns, shape the interpretation of one of Scotland's Collections of National Significance.

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The museum complex offers schools the opportunity to explore the works of Burns in three key areas:

* The historic landscape includes the unforgettable locations of Burns's Tam o' Shanter. Students can experience the ghostly atmosphere of Alloway's auld and haunted Kirk, where witches and warlocks danced to the tune of the Devil's pipes, as well as the auld Brig on which brave Meg pays the price of Tam's licentiousness with her tail.

* The birthplace cottage, where Burns came into this world on the 25th January 1759 amid an unearthly storm, and which Burns forever associated with the birth of his poetic imagination.

* A new museum building that explores the issues addressed in Burns's poems, songs and letters. The exhibits and manuscripts, interpreted in Scots and English, encourage students to form their own responses to Burns, delve into areas that inspired the poet, and grapple with the contradictions inherent in his works, actions, and behaviour.

'What's on for schools' has been planned in consultation with primary and secondary school teachers. Teachers can choose to come for workshops led by our dedicated and experienced learning professionals, or for a self-led visit using our specially composed teacher's notes. Either way, teachers are always welcome to make a pre-visit inspection of our facilities.

Primary aged children can take part in set workshops in the cottage and museum that have been planned to meet the learning outcomes of the school curriculum and use interdisciplinary learning approaches. For each age group there are two different workshops:

* For early years, Kailyard Capers explores how Burns used the Scots language in a fun and engaging way, and Tim'rous Beasties includes a costumed performance of Burns's 'To a Mouse'.

* For ages 6-8, When Burns was a Bairn, looks at the lifestyle of the Burns family in the mid 18th century, and Auld Lang Syne explores how Burns's famous song has been celebrated across the world through the theme of friendship.

* For ages 8-12, Being Burns uses dramatic performances to explore how Burns learned in a time before compulsory education; and Hot Potatoes uses interactive technology and debating skills to encourage students to investigate some of the difficult issues explored in Burns's poetry. …