No snags on this fine silk road

5th April 2013 at 01:00
Students gave an audience a lesson to remember on ancient routes into deep learning, as Elizabeth Buie reports

Twelve children from St Luke's Primary in North Ayrshire took centre stage last month at a masterclass in interdisciplinary learning, run by the Tapestry Partnership in Glasgow.

The young people led the audience on a journey along "The Silk Road to Scotland" - the theme of one of Tapestry's interdisciplinary programmes, which explores the links between Eastern Asia, North Africa and Europe created by the trade in silk and other products over thousands of years.

Although jade and spices were traded along the Silk Road, some of the most important "commodities" were people and ideas, including modern mathematics, medicine and philosophical thinking. Themes such as these have been explored by schools participating in this particular music-led programme.

Theresa Coulter, one of the teachers at St Luke's Primary, said the project had involved geography, literacy and maths work, as well as expressive arts delivered by a visiting artist and music sessions with Professor Nigel Osborne, one of the Tapestry directors.

The children described aspects of their work studying Chinese fables, silk paintings, architecture and culture. And drama work with P23 children explored the importance of gesture and facial expression.

The grand finale of their presentation was the performance of a Chinese song, in which they were joined by Dr Bryan Minghui Bi, head of the Chinese Music Institute at Peking University, who addressed the masterclass on his experiences as a music and interdisciplinary teacher in China.

Professor Osborne told the audience that melodic associations in the human brain helped with the learning of language, which was why music was often used to aid stroke victims and people with head injuries to regain language skills.

One of the next developments of the project will focus on special education, with a link between Park School in Kilmarnock and Vidya Sagar School in Chennai, India.

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