Tuesday, 14 July 2009

"Doing the Romans", while doing no damage

A practical exercise designed by teacher Philippa Holden at Brushwood junior school, Chesham, Buckinghamshire (Alice Woolley Extreme pots, the Guardian, Tuesday 14 July 2009) seems an imaginitive way to help people learn about the past and how we know what we do about it. It was done in a totally sustainable manner without damaging archaeological sites and assemblages.

It certainly makes the ACE’s “archaeological simulations” over in the USA with decontextualised foreign coins of dubious provenance buried in sandboxes look a bit tame and futile. Ms Holden said:
"The aim was to give the children the means to think for themselves, to discover things and then figure out what they might have been used for, and what room they were in, [...] I'm into not just teaching them facts. I wanted them to think about it".
In other words using evidence. I guess that is why the ACE will not be doing anything like this for a while. After all, they cannot really have the kids, the new ancient coin collectors of the future thinking too carefully (about the contexts those coins might have been found in and what that might tell us, and what is lost when we lose that information), can they?

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