Thursday, 20 December 2012

Evolution at the Horniman

To the beautiful buildings of the Horniman Free Museum in Sahf Lahndan.

Fortunately, the practioners of Arts and Crafts design were prescient enough to engrave the word Free in stone in the original 1901 edifice. Hopefully that will cause a bit of a nuisance if English museums ever try charging entrance fees again.

Also, I should warn potential visitors, the gardens are not up to much in mid-winter. Maybe try spring.

The anthropology exhibits are wide ranging and well-presented, however.

I couldn't help feeling that the Horniman has lost a bit of an edge since it was voted Museum of the Year in 2004. Maybe it could take a leaf out the book of the lovely Ipswich Museum!

But we're at the Horniman for a specific reason. To join a happy band of home edders in a Key Stage 3 workshop, Evolution.

I checked it out on the website, like a dutiful home-educating mama. We were promised Darwin, Lamarck, and Mendel.

Because I am also a girly-swot home-educating mama determined to drill some academic approaches into the junior brains of the mini grits, I then delivered a packed lecture on the history of evolutionary thought while travelling two hours on London Midland, into the underground, and on the overground train to Forest Hill.

I hope, fellow travellers, if you listened in on that, you found much instruction.

Then we had the workshop.

Horniman, I think you need to match your workshop to your promise. The leader had two points to make (apart from publicity puff for the museum and the rules of workshops). The first was how the theory of evolution didn't need all the evidence, so there.

I thought maybe I had been picking a fight again. Had I become disoriented and begun defending a corner for creationism? It didn't seem likely, since I am not a fan of creationism, not even as a devil's advocate. So I assume it was just a dialogue the leader felt it was necessary to have with an invisible interlocutor.

That is okay by me. I keep a blog.

Her second point was about adaptation. I have to make that point for her, because she didn't. It got lost somewhere between the snake vertebrae and the shark mouth. Disappointingly, adaptation was not mentioned. Darwin, not much. Mendel never got a look in. And Lamark? Who's he?

Horniman education department, can I help you start here?

I will leave the last word on the workshop to Squirrel, since she sums it up accurately: 'If that's Key Stage 3, I could do that when I was seven. It was all just Do you want to stroke a dead badger?'

Otherwise, I am hugely grateful that home educators continue to use up the resources, times and staff of museums, and it is not all lost. The aquarium guard, for example, provided us with a proper learning in museum culture, guarding duties, boyhood reminiscences, and an accent Shark couldn't understand, so at least she got an education from that, as well as a lot of fish.

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