Friday, 10 June 2011

Days 18 and 19 (9-10/6/2011)

Thursday was spent writing up final suggestions for our volunteer-research project ion buildings in the East End and also how we might carry out this research and final ideas for ‘Digging Hackney’.

Used under Attribution-No-commercial (CC) license - Flickr user delete08
Friday morning I finished this off and then did a bit more research into Hackney Wick for future projects. I discovered some more of its fascinating history not least of all the strange tale of the first railway murder in Britain in 1864. Apparently the victim, Thomas Briggs met his fate on a train between Bow and Hackney Wick following dinner in Peckham. His assailant Franz Muller left him by the side of the tracks and later escaped on a boat to New York but only after selling the unfortunate Briggs’ pocket watch- the jeweller from Cheapside (in the City) whom he sold it to came forward and identified Muller after hearing the story. The police took a faster boat and were waiting in the Big Apple to apprehend the murderer who was later hanged at the infamous Newgate prison- now the site of the Old Bailey. As for the victim himself, on the evening of his attack he was brought to the Milford Castle pub (which is still there, although now called the Top o’ the Morning) on Cadogan Terrace next to Victoria Park but sadly died later, back home in Clapton.

This afternoon we had a staff meeting all about future projects and it was great to hear all the plans the organisation has and also to look at some of its recent successes. It has been a real privilege to work here- 4 weeks has absolutely flown by as I have been given such a variety of interesting things to do and been entrusted with quite a lot of responsibility to get projects like ‘Digging Hackney’ moving forward. I really appreciate that the team here have allowed me to do this and it has been really rewarding. Hopefully I have been a helpful presence too! – I’m really going to miss it. This is my last blog and I hope you have enjoyed hearing about what a unique organisation I have had the chance to work for. I urge everyone to follow the other blogs and our ongoing projects via the TBE website or to come along to one of our events in the summer.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Days 15 and 16 (6-7/6/11)

Monday brought an early start - I was going back to school…

We went to Culloden Primary School in Poplar to give an all school series of workshop on the changing built environment of the area around the school, the Olympic park and London in general. I had to help organise the volunteers handing out information sheets etc. and setting up for activities. Each session was only about half an hour long but us volunteers had to move between different classrooms with all the materials quickly so as not to keep the children and their teachers waiting. First off I helped the teacher in a year 5 class talk about the changing nature of the Olympic park, particularly how the map has changed over the years and even how whole streets have disappeared. We emphasised this point by talking about Temple Mills Lane, which was rediscovered in 2008 in excavations for the Velodrome in the north of the site. This road had been buried under around 10 metres of Victorian landfill and we showed the children a Quicktime VR (click and hold then drag cursor to move around 360 degrees) of the archaeologists digging there - I’m the one behind the tripod thing (dumpy-level)! As soon as the kids found out I was an archaeologist they seemed a lot more interested in what they were doing! In other sessions classes compared historic and contemporary maps and thought about the infrastructure needed to host the Olympics.
The early 19th century riverboat I helped excavate in
December 2007. Pretty cold and that isn't exactly clean water
-more like old diesel and who knows
what else... Lucky we were wearing protective suits.
All the volunteers and Janet, Lizzie and Rosie, who prepared for and ran the day, worked incredibly hard to make this all work smoothly and I really think the school children enjoyed it. That said, running a workshop all day for over three hundred children is very tiring so was glad to get home and rest afterwards although it took two hours due to a dodgy DLR train being stuck in the tunnel at Bank. Funnily enough I went home via Stratford as a result and saw the Olympic venues from the Overground that I had been getting the kids to look at that morning and where I had worked three years ago. Back then it was a completely different landscape and not always a pleasant one as you can see from the picture to the right.

On Tuesday I helped with lunch some secondary school pupils who came to TBE for a workshop on the Olympic legacy who then got to go on a tour of the athletes village, which I was quite jealous of! Along with this I continued to work on ‘Digging Hackney’.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Days 13+14 (2-3/6/2011)

Another busy week and another lack of blogging on my part...
Last week on Thursday I spent time investigating Hackney Wick’s heritage as part of our ongoing investigation into the area- this was all the more enjoyable as the weekend before I had wandered up the Lea Navigation Canal from here and spotted some of the buildings I was then reading about. This area is very bounded: To the West and North the A12, to the East, the river Lea and the Olympic Park and running through the centre is Lea Navigation and Hackney Cut where it links with the Hertford Union Canal running in from the west. More on this soon. Despite its proximity to the Olympics it has a very distinctive feel and is still very industrial- the smell of the Bagel factory is particularly enticing!

I also spent time investigating English Heritage’s listed buildings databases and attempting to create maps through an experimental database tool that can output entries directly as map pins on a Google map called Google fusion- (sorry for tall the Googles).

Friday brought a visit to the Woodberry Down estate in the North of Hackney where the Senior Bees building explorers learnt about the history of the estate and its massive 15+ year transformation and commensurate doubling of its density to over 4000 homes. The tour of the first phase of development we had was all the more impressive to me given that I had worked on one of the sites as an archaeologist in 2008- where once stood a bombed out 1920’s house there is now a 27 storey tower block.

Friday afternoon brought massive amounts of photocopying, laminating and preparation for our visit to Culloden school on Monday 6th which I will talk about tomorrow!

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Days 11 and 12 (31/5- 1/6/11)

Since Monday was a holiday, I came back to work on Tuesday. In the morning I helped Lizzie out planning for a schools mapping workshop next Monday with 300 children that I am meant to be helping to run! Slightly daunting but sure it will go great. In the afternoon I went to Hackney Museum and catalogued all the finds used in the ‘Digging Hackney’ Workshop where children learn about archaeology. As part of our plans to change this workshop we thought it would be a good idea to know what artefacts we actually have at the moment and whether we need any different types. To do this I gave each bone, tile or piece of pottery a number and a description, attempted to date them (not the bones…) and photographed and labelled them.  The dating was tricky to say the least, despite having been an archaeologist for 3 years in London and with the help of two books I still struggled to sort some Medieval and Roman pottery from one another!
Today I inputted all this information into a spreadsheet and linked this to the photos. Whilst somewhat monotonous, this will really help us change the workshop into a more Hackney focussed activity hopefully that might look at several different aspects of past lives and local places.
Also today I have been trying to wrack my brains what might be good as a key introductory object for when we take the workshop out to schools rather than in the museum. At the moment the workshop focuses around the idea of age and how archaeologists can tell things about the past as fantastically evidenced by the Springfield Park log boat in a glass case in the museum which is great because people can stand and look down on it or sit on the glass above it to see how many people it could hold etc. Obviously to go out to schools we need something equally as impressive and evocative but somewhat smaller and less fragile! Ideas are welcome! The search continues…

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Week 2 Round Up (24-27/5/2011)

Been a busy week so haven’t had much time for blogging. Here’s what I’ve been upto.

On Tuesday I visited the Tower Hamlets Local History centre and Archive to learn how to carry out research into some of the buildings we are interested in in the East End. This was harder than it seemed at first as many of the street names and numbers have changed over the decades often I had to orientate myself by the name of a pub or a church nearby. In the afternoon I again helped Lizzie with ‘digging hackney’ at the museum.
Wednesday brought a new challenge: Fifteen Year olds…I helped Lizzie out with her Shelter workshop at City University where a group of Year 10 students learnt about architecture and the various forms of buildings needed to survive in different environments. I really enjoyed this and got to help them build architectural models of designs that could cope with deserts or underwater etc. The young people were really enthusiastic and I found it easy to talk to them and help out.

On Thursday I continued to research some sporting hackney heritage and also did research for updating the digging Hackney workshop. Finally, on Friday I ran a stall for the Building Exploratory at an event called ‘A Big Day Out’ aimed at older/retired men in Hackney up at the West Reservoir near Manor House where a variety of activities and different organisations encouraged people to try something new. I was slightly nervous about the responsibility of representing an organisation I had only worked for for two weeks! However it went really well: I talked to people about the upcoming taster event we have planned for our older peoples program, the organisation in general and encouraged folks to build London in plasticine as you can see above right. A busy week but a fun one!

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Blog Days 5 and 6 (20 + 23/5/2011)

After a staff meeting on Friday I helped Karen out with the Senior Bees and Building Explorers. This is a group of older people who meet every Friday for tours, lectures and discussions about London’s built environment and heritage. This Friday they had a lecture about social housing from David Gregory of the Metropolitan Housing Partnership. He described how his organisation carried out developments to provide affordable hosing in conjunction with government subsides and increasingly cross-subsides from mixed developments of market-price homes and affordable units. It was really interesting although it stretched my maths to the limit! I think the people who came got a really good overview of how it all worked and for my part I have a better idea of why it costs so much to provide social housing etc.
On Monday I continued to research some of Hackneys sporting heritage creating a simple spreadsheet of both demolished and existing buildings such as Haggerston Baths, the demolished Millfields/Clapton Stadium (home to Clapton (Leyton) Orient from 1900-1930) and those venues demolished as part of the Olympic park such as the Hackney Wick Stadium or Eastway Cycle Track. I then put all these locations onto a Google Earth Map that I will continue to update and add to through the coming weeks.
On my lunch breaks I have been getting lost in Haggerston but on our street I discovered this piece of modern heritage…

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Days 3 and 4 (18-19/5/2011)

I spent Wednesday and Thursday formulating some ideas on a way to collect information on buildings in Bow Road as part of the Transformers project TBE has running. At the moment we have been working on how volunteers will collect information about specific buildings from archives etc. and I’m going to go to the archives next week to test out how easy this is to implement.
I also have started working on gathering a bit of information about Hackneys sporting heritage along with archaeology and long term change in the Olympic park for a school workshop and at the same time, continuing to think about changing the ‘Digging Hackney’ workshop. As you can see things get messy very quickly on my desk whenever I do research…

On Thursday I attended a staff meeting where the team discussed upcoming projects: this made me realise how much the Building Exploratory does and how many different groups they work with.

I’ve got lots to do but nice to have a wide variety of interesting projects to work on. Also it’s great to have responsibility for doing research and having some creative input too! 

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Day Two (17/5/2011)

After a great first day I cycled into work, which let me get there much faster, despite the crazy traffic near Highbury... I started the day discussing the archaeology program TBE has in place and learning about KS2 history, science and art to get a better idea of how their workshop, 'Digging Hackney', fits in with the curriculum. Since I went to school in Scotland it was very different in some ways from what I learned at the age, but after an hour or so felt I had a good idea of what was required.
At lunchtime I cycled over to Hackney Museum with Lizzie, the projects coordinator at TBE, to help out with the workshop itself.
I haven't worked much with young kids before and was slightly nervous but over a cup of tea and while we setup the workshop, Lizzie explained to me what I had to do. When they all arrived I helped get them all to sit down quietly, look around the museum and excavate some modern rubbish (all thoroughly clean and dry I hasten to add) to work out what we could tell about people from what they leave behind. My group had a commuter's rubbish; the remains of two coffee cups, a Metro and a travel-card.
Lizzie explained to the class that I used to work as an archaeologist, a job that the kids were going to get a chance to become in the next activity.
Funnily enough on one of the museums newer exhibits, there was a picture of me at the Olympic Park doing some surveying at an excavation at Temple Mills under the Velopark! If you are interested here is a link to a different Quicktime VR photo of the site from 2008.

After a hectic couple of hours excavating sand-filled boxes of with real Roman and Medieval artifacts buried in them and the class completing their own recording sheets (just like real archaeologists) the kids left and we tidied up and head back to the office. It was a really fun experience and I dealt with it better than I thought I would - was nice to be digging again even if it wasn't for real!

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Day One on my Work Placement at the Building Exploratory (16/5/2011)

Hi I'm Jonny Gardner and will be blogging here over the next few weeks about my work placement at the Building Exploratory.

I’m a Masters student from University College London, studying Cultural heritage Studies and will be here for 4 weeks gaining experience in a heritage and outreach organisation as part of my course. I’m really excited about seeing all the different tings the Building Exploratory does and getting a chance to take part and contribute.

I have lived in London for 6 years, both studying and working here; before starting this masters degree I worked as an archaeologist for the Museum of London. In this job I worked at the Olympics, in the City and elsewhere, digging up ancient artefacts the Bronze Age, Roman, Medieval and more recent periods. While I’m here at TBE, I hope to bring some of this archaeological experience and knowledge into the work the TBE does and write about this here too.

On the first day I started in the afternoon and over a cup of tea was introduced to the work the Building Exploratory does, its different outreach programs and some of its past projects. I then began to work on some ideas for the new archaeology primary schools workshops that are being developed – I hope to be able to speak to some of my former colleagues for advice on this to enable people to learn about their local pasts, as well as consider how London as changed over the centuries.

An excellent first day overall, and nice to have a change from writing essays!

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Doug, Thursday, Week 2.

Today was the penultimate day of our work experience, we met Lizzie at Holy Trinity Primary School at 9:30 (although I got lost I got there in the end) where she was doing a workshop about maps. We had to take photos of the class being involved in the workshop and when she gave them and activity to do we went around the room helping out each group. 

After lunch we came back to the office were we sorted through all the photos we took that day.

Alfie Thursday Week 2

Today was the second last day of Mine and Doug's work experience. I hoped for these last two days to be as interesting and fulfilling as they possibly could be. This day was definitely one of the best, starting it of was another workshop but in a completely new school. We helped Lizzie carry out an all new workshop showing young children how Hackney has changed over the years, this was an interesting morning and I even learned a few things myself.

The second part of the day consisted of me and Doug sorting out and retouching the photos we took during
the workshop. This was a nice easy task and a nice finish to the day.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Doug, Wednesday, Week Two.

Today we were assigned the task of putting leaflets in envelopes, then stamping them with the TBE information and sticking on an address. We made about 150 envelopes, we then took them down to The Learning Trust branch under the Hackney library where they would be posted off to all the different schools.

After lunch we came back to the office and were told we needed to find a certain map amongst the hundreds of maps that were there. Alfie and I found it after a lot of searching and also found the certain street they were looking for (although it was called something different because the map was so old).

Not the most exiting of days but I enjoyed because we got McDonalds for lunch :)

Alfie Wednesday week two.

My day started of with me and Doug having to send t least 120 letters to different schools advertising some of the workshops. This was a long task but was very satisfying when we where finished. This led us all the way up to lunch and after we had another laborious task to complete.
We came back form lunch only to find ANOTHER pile of maps we had to sort through. Our task was to find a bomb damage map that had a certain road on it. This being seventy years ago it was allot harder than you think and it took a good to hours of research and endless searching to find the right road on the right map.
Although the tasks where challenging it was still another good day and I believe i accomplished allot from it.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Alfie sixth day.

On my sixth day of work experience I showed up and was told that I needed to make more leaflet designs for various workshops, started working as soon i sat down and the end result was two nice looking leaflets (in my opinion).
After lunch i headed back to the office and for the rest of the afternoon i did little tasks such as cutting out squares of card and overall i was just helping out some of the staff. It was not the most exciting day but it was still worth it and i stilly enjoyed the day very much.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Doug, Monday, Week 2

Today, me and Alfie arrived to find the office door locked with no-one inside. We looked around but none of our colleges were to be seen. After a while, Nicole turned up and informed us that everyone else was held up, so we waited until they did.

Once we were inside the office we started work on the design for our school flyers, this brought us up to

When we got back it was another hour or two of listing and labeling maps... Oh well.

Alfie fifth day.

This morning me and doug arrived to work with no one there. We waited for a few minutes until one of the staff showed up. They opened the door setting of an alarm making us have to wait for another good half an hour. When we finally got in we designed a leaflet for one of the workshops the company does.
This filled up the rest of the tie before lunch and when we got back we started on sorting out another large pile of maps.
This finally led up to me writing this blog and then to the end of the day. This was one of the more interesting and creative days of my two weeks of work experience.

Friday, 11 March 2011

On my second day here at The Building Exploratory I was told that they wanted to get primary schools in Brent involved in their workshops for small children. Therefore, me and Alfie created a database which included a list of the schools in that area, the Headteachers names and various other information they needed.

After lunch, we came back here to get to work on listing and labeling all the maps they have and categorizing them (A rather tedious job but someone has to do it, right?).

The next morning we assisted with the Senior Bees workshop (Mainly pouring tea and handing out biscuits), where the was a presentation on towers. I found it fairly interesting and learned a bit as well, after the old folk had left we cleared up and went to get lunch.

I have enjoyed my first week here at The Building Exploratory and hope next week will be even better.
Peace out.

Alfie third and fourth day

On my third day of work experience me and doug started the morning of by making a data base of all the schools in Brent. This is so the Building exploratory could tell them about the workshops they do throughout many schools in London. This was not a very challenging task but it wasn't the most exciting job to complete and I was happy to be able to go outside and get some fresh air for lunch.
The second part to the day consisted of me and Doug sorting out the hundreds of maps that the Building exploratory keep in there office. This job also took up allot of time but it was very interesting seeing all of the old maps and comparing London from now to when it was allot older.

The first part of the fourth day consisted of me and Doug helping out the Senior Bees. These are a group of older people who travel around London with one of the BE staff looking into architecture and the history of it. We got to meet all of them and they where happy to let us sit with them and talk about different types of towers all around the world. This was an interesting experience and i got to look into some of the things the senior bees do when they meet together. Overall it was a good two days and it was a brilliant way to finish of the week.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Dougs First Day

My first impressions of The Building Exploratory office space was was a light open plan area, I met most of the staff straight away and they were very welcoming towards me and Alfie. We were then taken on a short tour of the place and I was very impressed by all the displays around the room, which included a small model of a nearby tower block.

Then Janet gave us a quick introduction as to what goes on here and some of the workshops they have to offer. After this, we went onto the computers to get some first hand research done.

This brought us up to lunchtime, when we got back it was straight of to Orchard Primary School to assist in the "Building Bridges" workshop that was taking place. We met with Lizzie who was teaching the workshop, she wanted us to help out the kids and take photos for The Building Exploratory website. On this experience I learnt that to be a successful primary school teacher you need to be fun, make the kids laugh and be engaged in the task at hand.

After that it was a short walk home for me.

Alfie second day.

On the second day of work experience i went into the same school but to work with year threes this time. The workshop was called "printing planets" and the idea of it was to not only teach the year threes about our solar system but to let them have fun with the creative side of it as we made painted planets. In this workshop i learned how challenging it can be supervising years threes with paint and rollers but i also learned how you make something like that fun and interesting for people as young as the age of seven.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Alfie first day

My first interpretation of the working space as I walked in was that it was very open and light. I like this about most places and this gave me a good feeling about what I was going to do over the next two weeks. I was introduced to all the friendly staff and I was then shown around the office and told what sort of things they do around here in the specifics.
We where told what each member of staff does here and we where asked what sort of things we are interested in. We then had a quick look on the website and by then it was lunch.
The second half of the day consisted of travelling to a primary school and observing a bridge-making workshop. This gave me an insight into how the building exploratory interests children in what they do and how they make it fun for most ages. After helping out with some of the groups for an hour or so it was the end of the day and after finishing the bridges I head home.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Week 5: The National Curriculum and Masking Tape Labels


This was my final week at the Building Exploratory and I was determined to finish the library. The last thing to do was to catalogue the remaining books- by selecting a dewy number and labeling them with little bits of masking tape. A simple task you might think, but remembering six digit decimal numbers from the time you look at it on the shelf, to the time you come to write it down on a label, is not as easy as you might think.

My next task was to research the national curriculum to support an advertising campaign promoting the Building Exploratory's childrens workshops in schools. The idea was to tell the teachers how the workshops related to their syllabus and explian how they would expand the children's learning in the classroom. It was interesting for me to see how little the syllabus had changed from when I was small. I still remember making countless Tudor houses from cereal boxes and sugar paper portcullis castles.

From my Experience at the Building Exploratory I will take:
  1. The People: All highly educated laid- back Londoners who appear to enjoy a completely different way of life to me.
  2. The Enthusiasm: Who knew I could become so inspired by maps, historical photographs and the national curriculum?
  3. The Location: To outsiders Hackney may not sound like a cool new up-and-coming part of London - I learnt not to go on other people's misconceptions.
  4. The Independence: Yes  the 1 hour 45 minute journey was laborious, (it doesn't help when a rather heavy guy takes up half of your seat on the coach), but I travelled through historical parts of London on my own - a big step for someone like me and one which has given me a giant boost in confidence.
I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the Building Exploratory team for all their help and kindness in giving me this fantastic insight into working life.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Week 4: Researching Hackney


On top of sorting the library this week I was given the opportunity to do some research into the history of the built environment in Hackney. 

I was contributing to a new project run by the Building Exploratory in collaboration with Hackney Museum and Hackney Council, working with local primary school students. The purpose of which is to promote the regeneration of Dalston Square by involving and educating the local community with the intention of creating a time capsule.

My job was to use the Building Exploratory’s resources including photographs, the library, historical maps, the bomb damage database and Google maps, to support the Building Exploratory’s role in the project. I’ll admit, I am not the best person to ask about maps (as demonstrated in week 2!), I can barely navigate my hometown; my sense of direction is poor! I soon discovered, however, that maps are not instructions for getting lost; they are in fact objects of historical fascination! 

Using all these resources I managed to find roads around Dalston Square which had been damaged by bombs during the war, Google maps was especially helpful in discovering how the area had regenerated itself since then. It was interesting to see that on some roads one side was Victorian architecture whilst the other was 1950’s housing. It was fascinating to realise which roads had been there for centuries, which buildings had survived bomb damage and the areas where most people had died or suffered poverty and comparing this to the modern day Hackney. I had successfully formed an overview of the history of Dalton’s built environment. This in itself was fascinating; the architecture in my own town now intrigues me even more!

Week 3: The Library and Looking Smug


Today I travelled with new oyster card. Impressed by my newfound compatibility with city life, I struggled to mask my delight when I practically glided on to the bus!
The main task ahead of me today was ordering The Building Exploratory library. As the daughter of a librarian I was unphased by the Dewy decimal system, my real problem was the number of books! Hundreds of non-fiction texts on architecture, building history, Hackney, Greater London, the natural environment, business methods, craft books, planning advice, building techniques, map books, exhibition pamphlets and a number of DVD’s awaited me, all covered in a thick layer of dust. I spent all of 2 ½ hours ordering, sorting stacking (and sneezing!) before heading back to Kent.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Week 2: Shelters and Oyster Cards


On my journeys to Orsman Road I have come to realise that what was distinguishing me: a naïve, nervous Kentish 17 year old schoolgirl, from everyone else: confident London commuters, is the fascinating concept of an Oyster card. For those of you who don't travel to the City often, this  travel-card is a magic pass to all your London travel needs. When you step onto a bus or train, simply place the card against the scanner, and your payment is registered. It's a bit like a pay-as-you-go phone package only for buses. (Note to self: purchase an oyster card for a more 'city slicker' look.)

I began this week by updating my blog, before collecting my pile of maps and heading to meet Lizzie, the Building Exploratory projects officer to observe one of the 'Shelter: What From and What Form?' workshops, to a class of 30 Year 1 students at Bethnal Green Primary School in Hackney. Although I had previously examined the maps, I wasn't 100% sure on where I was going. I got on the correct bus without a problem, (well, still faffing for change of course)  but getting off the bus in the right place was a different matter entirely. In the end I just got off somewhere, and attempted to use the maps to try to establish where I was in relation to the school. In the end I had to ask an elderly man, out walking his grandchild in a push-chair. After listening to him babble on for about 5 minutes I was convinced I knew exactly where I was, thanked him and power-walked off, glad to be free. Embarrassingly I met a crossroads which confused me, and after 5 minutes of standing at the corner examining the maps, the man managed to catch up with me and told me exactly where to go. This time I listened intently and was successful in navigating my way to the school. Lesson 1: Listen properly the first time to remain professional and avoid embarrassment. Also learn how to read maps.

When Lizzie began the workshop I was struck by how different their schooling was from my own. They were a very ethically diverse group who wore their own clothes and addressed their teachers by their first names. Their classroom was full of computer technology, which Lizzie used to carry out the workshop. They were given pictures of a range of different environments and shelters and had discussions on each of them, e.g. what kind of things they might shelter from in that particular environment, or what was the shelter made of and why was this a good material to use? Some of the answers to questions were highly amusing, including: "I would use a shelter to hide from a big, big, big, BIG storm!" 

They were split in to groups in order to design their own shelters for a particular environment. I was allocated to assist a table where the girls had decided that they absolutely did not want to work with the boys, no matter how encouraging I was. The environment photo they were given was on the surface of the ocean, and we discussed that they should build a house boat, so as to float above the ocean and be protected from the sun as well as being "safe from sharks eating you." We then discussed what materials we should use, which the children struggled more with. I suggested rock (on purpose) which the children laughed at. When I asked why, they said: "It wouldn't float!". We finally agreed on wood, and set about making our houseboats from old bottles and cereal boxes which the children had collected, as well as the materials we had picked up from 'The Scrap Project' the previous week. I have never seen anyone use so much masking tape so fast and immediately confiscated it telling the children that they could ask me for some tape when they needed it. The boys where more enthused by the task than the girls, though both houseboats were good attempts. At the end of the session the groups reported back to Lizzie who asked them why they had made the decisions they had. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of working with the pupils at the school, it was amusing if a little stressful. It was good for me to have this insight into the field of education, one I will definitely consider when making my own career choices.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Week 1: Introductions and Scary Transport

As a Kentish schoolgirl studying in her final years I felt particularly uninspired when presented with the idea of taking part in an extended work placement.

The process of selecting a placement seemed all too familiar: Fill out a form on a website and voila! – You have selected a second-rate placement, in the same area you’ve lived in your entire life, with people who seem like they’ve worked there their entire lives and be given the most inspirational job of photocopying and making endless cups of tea!

Unsurprisingly, I declined; and set about e-mailing and calling businesses and the (limited) contacts I had acquired with little hope of a response. I was referred to a member of The Building Exploratory team, and between us we arranged my placement. At the time I had very limited knowledge of how the charity functioned or how it contributed to the local community. I was also complete novice to the workings of London itself, and, if I am honest, daunted by the prospect of travelling on my own.

On my first day, however my journey was smooth and uncomplicated (as uncomplicated as travelling from Rochester to Hackney can be!). I was presented with a bright and interesting office and a small but perfectly formed team where everyone knew everyone- far away from the dull placements my friends had been forced to endure!

I was given an induction into the workings of the charity and was allocated time to wander around the website to get to grips with its purpose. I also had the chance to explore Hackney, visiting the ‘Scrap Project’, a charity who collect unwanted ‘rubbish’ from businesses and recycle them ready to be used by other charities running educational children’s art and craft sessions. We collected the materials for use in the next few children’s workshops on the calendar, one of which I was to observe in the following week. 

Despite my initial stereotypes of what work experience consists of, I have in fact felt part of a team and not entirely useless. The traveling really wasn’t half as scary as I had anticipated and I look forward to the next few weeks at The Building Exploratory with an open mind, ready for new experiences.