Tes Editorial

The power of the press is being demonstrated in Peebles, where 500 primary pupils are scheduled to visit an exhibition on the history of printing, at the town's Tweeddale Museum until January 30.

The Power of the Press, which celebrates the 500th anniversary of the printing press in Scotland, is a touring exhibition by the museums service of Scottish Borders Council and will travel from Peebles to Hawick Museum on February 9, where it will end in mid-May. The exhibition investigates how the printed word has developed in Scotland, with an emphasis on its history in the Borders. Each of the five museums included in the tour adapts the show and the education programme to its own particular venue and audience.

Rosemary Hannay of Tweeddale Museum said: "We're very pleased with the response from schools. The visits are talk and activity-based and begin with a discussion on how information was passed on before printing was invented - when it was word of mouth and books which did exist were written by hand - and how society changed because of it."

The children learn that, in the past, even kings and queens could not always read and write, and being a scribe was a way to earn a living. They compare a medieval manuscript to a Harry Potter book; discover that computer keyboards are set out like old-fashioned compositors' letter trays and practise writing with nib pens dipped in proper ink.

"Teachers have been surprised at the silence that descends when the children are copying out the letters of the alphabet, which is a messy activity but great fun," says Ms Hannay. "They also love having a go on a typewriter which, to most of them, is really antique."


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