The study of ancient cultures at key stage 2 (Egypt, Greece, Mesopotamia, Aztecs, the Indus) and key stage 3 (Rome), prompts the questions: "Why did these ancient civilisations happen here at this time?", and "Why did all these ancient cultures stop, except for China?" Although there have been many interruptions to the continuity of centralised power in China's long history, it has essentially continued from the time of the first emperor (about 20bc) through to the party state of today with many common elements. Teachers and students may also focus their attention on our Hotung Gallery, which provides a broad chronological sweep of Chinese art and archaeology from about 3500bc to the 20th century. This is complemented by thethematic approach of the Tsui Gallery at the V A. The accompanying teachers' pack will explore how to compare elements of civilisation across the museum's collections, using both the exhibition and the Hotung Gallery.
Art and technology teachers at all levels will want to make use of this exhibition: looking at animals as symbols, or the use of masks for key stages 1 and 2; sculpture of the body, pattern, design and technology at key stages 3 and 4. The exhibition will demonstrate the technological sophistication of early China in bronze, ceramic and lacquer, for example. The Chinese invented quality mass-production and made many breakthroughs in metallurgy, ceramics and printing, centuries before Europe.
We also hope that this exhibition will encourage more teachers to explore archaeology in its own right within the post-Dearing curriculum. The striking Mr Spock-like figures in the exhibition can be used to inspire creative writing and talking across the curriculum; many museums and galleries are now promoting language work as an important element of the museum experience for children.
* There will be special TES reader offers in the catalogue and the resource pack for teachers (available from June). The TES is also organising three teachers' evenings in association with the British Museum Education Service on September 23, 30 and October 14. Tailormade in-service training will be available, in addition to study days for teachers and students.
* To join the mailing list and receive details of these events and resources please send a postcard with your name, daytime address, phone and fax number to: 'Mysteries of Ancient China' (TES 1), British Museum Education Service, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG. Tel: 0171 323 85118854 John Reeve John Reeve is head of education at the British Museum