There is a renewed enthusiasm for the “archaeology community” reaching out to schools. It seems, at least in part, to be fueled by the new Common Core Education Standards that allows educators to use archaeology to teach lessons across the curriculum, since archaeology uses science, history, math, art and writing.
The Archaeology Institute of America (AIA) held an Educational Outreach Conference at during their annual meeting. Forty archaeologists and educators, from the United States and Canada met for the two day conference January 9th and 10th , in New Orleans. Heritage Education Programs’ Craig Lesh and Liese Harris were among the Conference participants.
The AIA meeting started with a bang. January 8th, was the bicentennial of the Battle of New Orleans. Ceremonies and reenactments where held at Chalmette Battlefield celebrating the victory US forces over those of Great Britain. That night a music program was held in Jackson Square and fireworks lit the skies over the Mississippi. Through the weekend one would encounter reenactors costumed in period uniforms (US and British) and civilian dress around the French Quarter.
The Conference sessions were:
- “Teaching with Archaeology: Infiltrating Subjects beyond Social Studies”
- “Providing Ethical Guidelines for Outreach and Heritage Education”
- “High School Archaeology Courses and Field Schools”
- “ State and Regional Approaches to Outreach and Archaeology Educations”
- “Archaeology and Critical Thinking in Your History/Social Studies Classroom.”
- “Metrics, Research and Publication”
- “Promoting Archeological Outreach: Marketing Distribution and Sustainability”
In addition to the great opportunity to meet and talk to colleagues: We came away with some new tools to enhance our Heritage Education Programs.
As a group, we started a process to create a simple statement of standards for Archaeological Literacy for non archaeology majors, pre college students, teachers and the general public. Most national and state and regional archaeology societies have outreach and education as part of their mission. Each
has its own approach and area of interest, but if such a uniform statement was to be adopted by these organizations, it would go a long way to strengthen the message of conservation of heritage resources ant the recognition of archaeology as a scientific practice.
Another element discussion during the Conference was how to get increased recognition of heritage education as a vital and necessary part of the archaeological process, by the rest of the archaeological profession. To this end there is a new effort to craft appropriate articles/papers for scholarly archaeology journals and promote more heritage education sessions at associations’’ annual meetings.
The AIA will hold a one day follow-up conference at their 2016 meeting in San Francisco, with other related session integrated into the regular meeting.
Outside the official agenda there was talk about a forming an organization of “Heritage Educators.” It has lots of potential. Another exciting development is that the AIA will be launching a new program for school age children; Possibly sometime latter this year. The Council for British Archaeology (http://new.archaeologyuk.org/ ) has a “Young Archaeologists’ Club program. (http://www.yac-uk.org/ ) It is exciting that AIA is planning a program to support Pre College students American (and Canadian?) out side of classroom education.