Children and museums

Acuarelas

Most people do not enjoy museums. Sure, when travelling they might visit one, or perhaps if a friend asks them to. However, the general public considers them a boring activity. This idea probably originated when they were children. This is the reason why I think it is so important to help kids enjoy museums by guiding them and exploiting their curiosity.

Family- friendly museums, with many interactive elements such as screens and games are becoming increasingly popular. As it is natural, children prefer these spaces where touching is allowed and some of the content is just for them. However, this is not a valid reason to stop going to regular art museums.

In your next visit, if your are going with a child, here are some things to take into account:

1 Plan your visit well. This includes thinking in advance about what would be more attractive for them and the length of the visit.

2 Prepare them. Tell them about what they are going to see.

3 Find out whether there are tours or activities for children. Most museums have an education department with programmes for them.

4 Involve them. Feed the child’s curiosity by making it a discovery. Ask them to look around: what is their favourite piece and why? These simple questions will develop their critical thinking. In a world where so much information is simply handed to us, we forget to question our surroundings.

Often, we see at museums tired children and parents who promise them that they will buy an ice cream if they stay quiet and behave. It is not right to assume that it is a burden for them and that they hate it. Even at en early age, we are capable of appreciating beauty and empathise with other’s feelings.

I am certain of the positive changes that will affect society by simply making the young more aware, more observant of reality.

Art is for everyone.

-ana-

EXTRA! EXTRA! Greedy scientists love torturing animals!

It seems to be that people are terrified of the use of animals in laboratories.

The words “animal research” seem to conjure a series of morbid and distasteful images of rats with extra limbs or puppies drenched in blood and strapped to a chain. When seeing pictures like these on the internet, it’s not difficult to understand why so many people violently oppose to new drug research when non-human animals are used.

But in reality, animal research is far from barbaric.

If you walk into a lab, as I did last June, you will find that there are no crying animals, no mad scientists laughing at the animal’s torture, no rabbits who are missing half of their skin.

I got the chance to spend a week of work experience in a lab, part of a well respected university. As excited as I was for this experience, a small fraction of me was worried, because I had seen a lot of morbid images on my Facebook homepage, images which I had not asked to see. But when I saw the way animals were used, I was very positively surprised.

And because I know that one single experience is not representative of the use of animals across all laboratories, I was pushed to investigate more.

I decided to look into the situation in the UK as this is where I live, and hopefully where I will go on to study and carry out any experiments in the future.

First of all, I would like to point out that not anybody can work with animals. In the eve of my Biology and Chemistry investigations, it has become clear to me that working with animals is more of a pain than it is a joy. The UK government requires those wanting to use animals under laboratory conditions to have a license and to have passed a course in animal care. Countless restrictions have to be taken into account and the animals have to be treated with the utmost care, always keeping their welfare in mind.

As a researcher pointed out to me jokingly when I worked in their lab this past summer: “The animals here are treated a lot better than any of the researchers!”

These people know that it is not ideal to work on animals, and try as much as they can to find alternatives for works on animals, as it can be expensive and won’t always give the best results, but it is still very useful to work with non-human animals.

It seems that the general consensus in the scientific community is that animal research may not be ideal, but in a lot of cases, essential.

This is why, it is fundamental to carry it out as well as possible, always keeping in mind what is known as “The three Rs of animal research”:

Replacement: To try as far as possible to replace the use of animals with alternative techniques

Reduction: To always use the minimum possible number of animals to make a fair investigation.

Refinement: To find ways in which animal stress and suffering will be brought to a minimum.

These three principles were first described by W.M.S Russell and R.L Burch in their book: “The Principles of Humane Experimental Technique”

I am trying to keep this as short as possible, but it is proving extraordinarily difficult to do so, as there are many points of view. But the thing is, I’m not writing this post because I wish to convince others to take on my views on such a controversial topic.

What I do hope to transmit is an invitation to understand this issue further and to stop the spread of guilt-trapping facts. What I wish for, is an educated debate, a space free of morose pictures of suffering bunnies, an unbiased discussion free from violent opposition.

It is not uncommon to hear that researchers working with animals are sent threats, or that they fear the security of their lab. These people who are claiming to be in favour of ending cruelty and in favour of peace seem to be aggressively lashing out against those who disagree with them.

What sort of peace is that?

I hate to be tricked into feeling guilty about my beliefs, when in reality, I am only in favour of what to me, seems like the best conclusion.

I am in favour of using animal research solely when essential.

I am for giving the best treatment to animals.

I agree that we should find alternatives as much a possible.

And if I see one more picture of a tortured animal on Facebook, I swear…   I won’t get angry, I will only carry on to inform people about responsible research instead of abusing them for having their own views.

I hope that those who violently oppose will learn to do the same.

-teresa-

Sources:

http://www.understandinganimalresearch.org.uk/

http://www.ox.ac.uk/news-and-events/animal-research

http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/animals/using/experiments_1.shtml

Handmade

Handmade

We are living in a world of mass production, where machines are capable of producing practically anything. And yet, there is an increasing interest in learning to do things by hand. From homemade jam and do-it-yourself furniture to shopping in local crafts markets, the value given to what human hands produce alone is becoming greater.

But why?

It could be a way of standing against low quality products made in huge factories. Or perhaps a more humanitarian reason: a reaction to the terrible life conditions men, women and even children have to endure working in such places.

However, I dare to say that there is a much more simple explanation for why handcrafts have not disappeared but rather become more popular and cherished.

That is, the need to CREATE.

Human beings have always had a deep urge to use their hands in order to bring their ideas into reality, allowing creativity to flow freely, creating something beautiful and meaningful. This is the most basic way of expressing oneself.

Living in an age where there is never enough time and where people have stopped wondering about simple things, immersed in a way of life that has become almost automatic, the yearning of handmade things is completely understandable. The fact that humans made something by hand and in a comfortable surrounding, gives value and a certain security that there is quality. In a sense, one can even feel a connection with the person who made it.

It is a way of restoring balance to an otherwise impersonal world.

-ana-