Year 8 State Library of Victoria Excursion

Year 8 Biretta students having been studying Medieval Europe as part of their History curriculum, and attended an excursion to the State Library of Victoria in the latter part of Term 3.  We experienced the medieval world of parchment paper, coloured powders and gold leaf in this hands-on calligraphy experience. We learnt that dating back to the 5th century, the art of calligraphy flourished in the medieval age and required precise craftsmanship. In a creative experiential workshop, students became calligraphers, and learnt how to write decorative medieval scripts using calligraphy pens. They made their own illuminated manuscripts based on Latin text.

We  also explored the history of medieval manuscripts while touring the Mirror of the World exhibition.  Students were able to physically track the progression and evolution of the written word by viewing ancient texts. Writing is the physical manifestation of oral language. Writing is essentially humankind’s principal technology for collecting, manipulating, storing, retrieving, communicating and disseminating information. This awe inspiring exhibition and workshop has progressed to an inquiry and interdisciplinary based project between the Humanities and English Departments. 8B have embarked on the preliminary research phase of this task, tracking the history and development of the written word. This experience has allowed students to understand that there is congruence between History and English, and that there is commonality in both application and skill development.

8B students are currently immersed in this task and have asked some well-considered inquiry questions …

  • What civilisation had the first written language?
  • Initially, what purpose did the written word serve?
  • How did the purpose for written language evolve?
  • How has the value placed on written language changed overtime?

We look forward to furthering this topic and building upon 8B’s love of learning.

Mrs Kamila Bielinski
Head of Humanities

 Mr Chris Pye
Head of English

Excursion1 Excursion2 Excursion3

Read some student reflections on their excursion to the State Library below.

Our trip to the State Library was very fun and enjoyable. We learnt many new concepts, and got to see different artefacts that helped us understand the history of our civilisation. A highlight of our trip was seeing a clay tablet which dated back four thousand years ago. Apparently it comes from a place in Iraq, and it looks to be a receipt given to a farmer when he paid his taxes. This was very fascinating because it showed us that even back then, they had receipts to show that people paid their taxes. We also learnt about the struggles of people back then, as they had to do everything by hand, which would have taken a very long time. I learnt that the paper they used was parchment which came from animals, however as the paper would eventually start to curl up, they had to make the covers heavy to prevent the paper folding.

After exploring the library, it was time to make our own manuscript. This was another highlight of our trip. We were taught how to write in a special way, like how people did back then. It was very interesting and fascinating because I had never done this before. We learnt how hard it would have been back then, writing books by hand! Overall, it was an amazing day out!

  • Thevesh Kugan, 8B

I found this excursion to be a chance to get out of the classroom, have some fun, and experience new things. It wasn’t just fun, we also learnt a lot of new things. One of the things we learnt in History was how books and documents changed over time, but also reflected society around them. For example, in the 12th or 13th centuries, books or documents were very expensive, and were only meant for the wealthy. These documents also influenced society, in various times, as we live in the repercussions of those documents. The Magna Carta was a document that essentially created rights for the common people in the Middle Ages, as this shaped society as we know it today. Personally I really enjoyed this experience and I hope that this continues in the following years. I hope we can experience this one more time in Year 8 Biretta.

  • Winuk Rathnasinghe, 8B

On Monday the 18th of September, the class of 8B had an excursion to the city. We visited the State Library to explore and learn new things from displays and workshops, and Melbourne Central for lunch. It was a great experience because we were learning outside the classroom, in the real world, in a different, interesting way. We arrived at the State Library in the morning by public transport and left our bags in lockers as we explored and followed the guide around the library. The main space of the library (where people go to work and study) is in the centre of the building, while around the border there are floors and rooms with exhibits and lots of information. On one particular floor there was a display of ancient books and illuminated manuscripts which we had recently learnt about in class. It was fascinating to see one in real life after studying them. They also had a case to show their oldest book (which was 4000 years old), however it wasn’t really a book, it was a tax record in an ancient language, inscribed on a small piece of clay. Another floor was based on the history of Victoria, and offered lots of information and facts in the form of photos, display items, audio and more. Some key highlights and learnings from the day included the workshop at the library where we learned how to write in ‘uncial’ (a type of script used in the past), seeing ancient items such as the manuscripts in person, and learning about parchment and how books were used and created in those times.

  • Matthew Pham, 8B