Curio Cabinet

curiocabinet1.jpg Diagonally situated, my grandmother’s Curio Cabinet is nestled in a corner of our dining room. As a young child, I loved the curved glass that beckoned my curious eyes, welcoming me to the cabinet’s contents. Now it holds objects crafted when my sons were children: dinosaurs made of wood and ceramic pieces, and memorabilia from my father’s father: pipes and pocket watches.

As an adult, I was curious about the origination of curio cabinets, and turned to the web for more information. I followed a path to the Middle Street Primary School in Brighton, England. Middle Street has what appears to be an after-school (“out of school hours”) program called Cabinets & Pods based around a “cabinet of curiosities”.

It turns out these cabinets, while similar to my grandmother’s curio cabinet, are more reminiscent to me of a typesetter’s box, only rather than being filled with type, the box is filled with unusual collections of objects that may have some relation to one another.

The Cabinet of Curiosities will be both a physical presence in the classroom (as a constant reminder of the wider aims of education) and an ‘icon’ that provides us with many useful analogies for considering and discussing cognitive development.

Along those lines, students thought about how their brains are organized as they imagined the functioning of their minds. The results are their Brain/Storage Analogies, drawings that represent their ideas.

3rddrawing.jpgThis analogy of the brain as curio cabinet intrigued me sufficiently that last year I shared the idea with our middle school learning specialist and middle school art teacher. It just so happened that last year our learning specialist did a series of sessions with our sixth graders about learning and their brains. One of their favorite new words became metacognition. Middle Street’s Brain/Storage Analogy was incorporated into sixth grade art classes, including class discussions with the learning specialist as part of art class. (That’s my brain analogy rendering.)

Recently, I paid a return visit to Middle Street, and came upon their Cabinets & Pods blog.

What is this?
An online extension of Middle Street school’s cabinet of curiosities – weird & wonderful things to appeal to children.

I encourage you to pay a virtual visit to Middle Street. Your mouth will smile, and your brain may just start thinking about itself in a novel manner!

January 23, 2008 UPDATE: Walking the Berkshires is a blog filled with curious and interesting entries, among them this post called Cabinet of Curiosities #3: Albertus Seba Edition. I stumbled upon it thanks to the author posting a link to this post. Am returning the favor because I think that if you enjoyed my post, you will enjoy his, as well!

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