GUM workshop, November 9, 2023 /

On November 9th, 2023, Things That Talk (TTT) in collaboration with the Ghent University Museum (GUM) organized a workshop for the museum student team (MuST). These students come from various programs and help behind the scenes of the museum, attend workshops, and explore various collections and museums. The workshop focused on exploring the affect of objects and its effect on object-based teaching and learning (OBTL). Bart Grob (curator at Museum Boerhaave) inspired us to explore this concept in our workshops.

When it comes to teaching with objects, educators and curators might tend to focus on the materiality of objects and their history and provenance, overlooking their affect. In other words, what we see, smell, feel, hear or what we cannot sense when engaging with objects might activate emotions. Instead of ignoring the affect of objects, it is important to explore how this might influence the effect of our teachings and reconsider our pedagogies. 

The workshop began with a short introduction of teaching with objects as a pedagogy, which highlighted the heterogeneity of practices and reflected on the benefits and challenges of this approach. This was followed by two hands-on activities involving various objects such as spoons and Barbies. For each activity, participants were first encouraged to reflect on the materiality of these objects before connecting them to the affects they might evoke in them and others. Then, they reflected on the impact this might have on teaching with objects practices. Finally, students were invited to design their own OBTL lesson, workshop, or tour. They defined learning objectives, explored how to achieve these goals, and how to use diversity to try and elevate their practices.

Overall, for us, this session has highlighted several points. 

Overall, the workshop generated lively and productive discussions and consisted of a first step towards helping our project explore students’ perspective and new avenues to make teaching with objects more inclusive.