Wednesday, 17 November 2010

We Don' Need No Edukashun

English Heritage is one of the British cultural institutions about to face the consequences of heavy government cuts. In response, according to the Museums Association, they have decided they may have to close entire outreach department. That is what used to be called the Education Department and they did fantastic work among the public, including the highly important task of encouraging teachers to incorporate ancient monuments and archaeology in their teaching and generally encouraging the educational use of the nation's heritage. [A bit of dislosure here, I did some contract work for them a while back, preparing artefact on-site handling facilities with teacher's information packs and some writing for them.] At the moment they have just 14 people engaged in outreaching to 49 million members of the English public, one to 3.5 million people. They will now it seems lose those people.

We of course do have another form of public-funded educational outreach about archaeology at least - the PAS. This too will no doubt be affected by the cuts, but probably not (yet) wholesale closure. They have 50 people engaged mainly in some vague kind of "outreach" to around 8000 English metal detectorists (after the last cuts-that-were-not-cuts readers may recall that Roger Bland announced that this would affect the ability of the PAS to reach the non-collecting public. So at the moment they have one member of staff to 160 members of the collecting public. So what is now happening is that, if these plans come to fruition, the Great Experiment is leading inexorably to a situation where the main source of education about archaeology and the heritage in general in England and Wales is the FLOs talking to metal detectorists in their clubs and rallies and the rest of the public can go whistle. And of course the PAS closed THEIR education Department ages ago. The dumbers-down are rubbing their hands in glee, no more "elitist" education for the Brits, 'nuff 've that.... jes' aiming fer the lowist commen denominator, eh?

Of course probably the no-questions-asking "Internationalist" collectors would be against the use of the heritage in national education programmes:


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