Hi, I’m Chris Willmoth and I recently joined the Hull Maritime team as the new Community and Schools Learning Officer.
As an educator for the past 10 years both in schools and museums I have had the joy of creating and delivering student-led, hands-on learning experiences for young children on a wide variety of topics. My hope when creating these experiences is that create a spark in a child that lasts a lifetime and maybe even makes a difference to that child’s future.
Having worked as an enabler at Hull’s museums for the last eight years, I’ve been fortunate enough to facilitate learning opportunities for a wide range of audiences at many of our amazing sites. From dressing up as a whaler to inspire and tell stories to 5-year-olds at the old Maritime Museum, to tours of Wilberforce House with adults on Wilberforce and the Transatlantic Slave-trade. In my new role, I now have the exciting opportunity to lead-on and create brand new school workshops and learning experiences for our refurbished Maritime Museum and the North End Shipyard, new home to the Arctic Corsair. The aim of these experiences is, of course, to spark engagement and memory in our learners.
Memory plays a huge part in our education and learning. If you remember something, it can build help you build new knowledge and understanding of the world around you. For instance, I pose this question to you? Who reading this remembers the trips you went on whilst at school? You may not remember every maths lesson you had aged seven or the details of those geography lesson you sat through on rivers at Secondary school, but I would bet that most of you can remember most of the school visits you went on. I know I do. Whether it was having the thrill of being allowed to touch real ancient Roman artefacts as a 10-year-old at the local Roman museum or reflecting on historical atrocities at the World War One cemeteries in Ypres. These experiences have stayed with me and profoundly affected who I am today, both in my career choice and my personal understanding of the world. As such, the joy (and slightly daunting responsibility!) of this role is that if I do my job well, I am directly influencing people’s futures and creating memories learners will never forget.
I am especially excited to have joined a project with the opportunity to combine my belief that museums can make a difference in children’s lives and the importance of Science Technology Engineering, Arts and Maths (STEAM) education for young people. Science has always been a passion of min and I recently posed this question in my recent master’s dissertation. “How can museums contribute to improving young people’s attitudes and engagement with STEM subjects?”. I believe creative engagement in these subjects at museums can provide learners with a variety of transferable life skills such as problem solving, critical and creative thinking, observation, applying ideas in new situations, classifying, logic and communication.
Combining these skills with our wonderful Maritime history here in Hull provides a multitude of opportunities for engagement with these STEAM subjects. For example, if we take our superb trawler the Arctic Corsair, it provides real-life contextual examples of STEM in action. The Science of floating and sinking, the technology involved with powering a diesel engine and The Engineering and physics involved in shipbuilding are just a few examples. And if the majestic Corsair itself fails to spark a child’s interest, the local stories and narratives of this maritime city can provide context and bring these learning opportunities to life.
As you can see from my new job title, as well as schools, I am also the Communities Learning Officer. As such, I will also be creating learning opportunities for those communities that are underrepresented in our museums whether due to physical or social barriers. One of the first jobs on my to do list is to start creating an exciting package of events for families in the school holidays. These events will be free and point towards the kinds of opportunities that will be available once our new maritime sites are open.
Over the next few years, I will have the opportunity to work with a lot of fantastic people, including teachers, families and local communities, to work on establishing learning opportunities that are effective and relevant for them. In fact, we are currently looking for a couple of primary school science, maths or arts leaders to join our Teacher’s Panel to help inform the creation of our new primary school workshops. If you are interested in this or if you have any other comments, thoughts or ideas on what learning in our maritime sites should look like, feel free to get in touch at email@example.com. I look forward to hearing from you!