The Freud Museum

Secondary teachers information

Secondary and Tertiary Schools and Colleges - General Information

"They walked away thinking about the ideas they had discussed and talking about them enthusiastically and endlessly ..."

High School Tutor


Dear Tutor,

Suppose a friend comes round to my house with two bottles of wine. A fine Cabernet Sauvignon, and an equally fine Merlot. He says we're going to learn something about wine, and uncorks the bottles.

My friend has been studying wine for the last 15 years. I think he's an expert. He thinks he's just a beginner. We taste the wines and compare them, and as we are drinking he tells me a little about the components that go to make up the experience of a good wine; the tannin, acidity, 'body' and so on. Then he says: 'Can you taste the blackcurrent?'. Its true! You can taste it! We savour the wine and I have to admit get a little bit tipsy in the process. Later I say of the other wine: 'This one's a bit nuttier isn't it?'. My friend agrees, but points out that there is also more than a hint of rasberry. What did I learn here? I didn't learn about wine as if I were reading it from a book; neither did I learn how to make wine or look after it in any practical sense. But I learnt something. My friend and I could sit down as equals to enjoy a few glases of wine and the exercise of our imaginations and palates.This is the sort of experience we want to create at the Freud Museum. When students come for a group visit we aim to give them a taste of psychoanalysis.

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Or imagine yourself at a bus stop. You are waiting for a bus and the timetable said there should have been one along ten minutes ago. After another ten minutes you start to become irritated. "Look at that" you say to your companion, "every eight minutes it says and we've already been here nearly an hour!". Your companion replies that actually it has only been twenty minutes, but he knows what you mean.

After a few more minutes you start to make up theories about why there are no buses: "It was never the same since the Greater London Council was abolished", "I suppose they are all on strike again", "It's probably been caught in the rush hour", "Perhaps there has been an accident along the route", and so on. You interact with the bus timetable on the basis of your experience and imagination, and the interaction promotes an interpretative attitude to the world. Your companion might even enable you to go further: What were the merits of the GLC transport policy? How can industrial relations be improved? How might traffic congestion be lessened? By the time the bus does arrive, you have had a pleasant couple of hours solving some of the capital city's major problems.

An educational visit to the Freud Museum is a bit like this in the sense that we interact with the experience of the visitor, with respect to Freud's work, to produce an interpretative engagement with the museum environment and the outside world. Our primary aim is to provoke thought and to upset prejudices.

The most important level is the experience of the visitor. Visits are almost entirely student-centred, and because of this each group gets a unique experience. Our policy for student visits may be summarized as experiential, interactive, student-centred, and self-reflexive.

Worksheets

Much of the educational work at the museum is done through unstructured discussion. At other times worksheets are used to stimulate thought. They are devised as 'quizzes' played in groups, in which each group has to 'find something' in the museum. What students are asked to find is an interpretation of something, using their own experience and what they know about Freud and psychoanalysis. The questions are open-ended and students need little prior academic knowledge to answer them. The answers which the groups come up with are then used as a spring board from which to explore issues about Freud's life and work. Any comments are taken seriously, and we encourage students to debate with each other over their various interpretations, and to make links between them. In the process we hope that students get a feel for psychoanalytic modes of enquiry.

Facilitated visits last up to 2 hours and cost £5 per person. They take place outside our usual opening hours, so the group has the museum to themselves, and there is a minimum of ten per group (or £50).

To view the online calandar and make a booking, please click here.

For further information please contact Ivan Ward on 020 7435 2002, or via the Enquiry Form.

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