Digging our own graves? A suggested focus for introducing archaeology to new audiences
As an Outreach Coordinator for the Florida Public Archaeology Network, I often get to work…
Under the collaborative umbrella of the Archaeology Education Clearinghouse (AEC), representatives from the Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA), Society for American Archaeology (SAA), and Archaeological Institute of America (AIA), came together at the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) conference to share archaeology education resources with social studies educators from around the nation. NCSS is a national organization for all sorts of educators concerned with social studies, including classroom teachers, administrators, college and university educators, and those who specialize in curriculum and policy.
Over the course of two November days in Seattle, over 300 people stopped by the AEC vendor booth. Over half of the folks who stopped by the AEC booth engaged in conversations with Meredith Langlitz, Christy Pritchard, or Mary Petrich-Guy. These archaeologists spoke with educators, shared information, and, demonstrated the engaging utility of archaeology as a tool for meeting curriculum requirements. In addition to the vendor booth, Pritchard, assisted by Langlitz, led a session for 35 classroom teachers, “Archaeology and Social Studies: Making the past come alive in your classroom!”
The range of archaeology lesson plans available through AEC impressed conference attendees. Many Washington teachers were familiar with the state organizations listed on a state resource flyer, such as the Burke Museum, but were unacquainted with the abundance of teaching resources accessible through the AEC. Even educators weighed down by the barrage of promotional materials enthusiastically picked up the “ultralight” AEC flyer to take home and access the web of archaeology teaching materials.
Educators can then use the materials from the SHA, SAA, and AIA in classrooms and interpretive settings to meet national and state curriculum standards. In its fifth year, the AEC provides a point of access to all three organizations’ K-12 education materials ranging in focus from what is archaeology, prehistoric, historic, and classical archaeology, to careers in archaeology. A range of lesson plans compiled by the three organizations cover the ten themes of social studies in national curriculum:
2. Time, continuity, and change
3. People, places, and environments
4. Individual development and identity
5. Individuals, groups, and institutions
6. Power, authority, and governance
7. Production, distribution, and consumption
8. Science, technology, and society
9. Global Connections
10. Civic ideals and practices
Though the utility of archaeology as a social studies teaching tool may be clear to archaeologists, and some teachers are big fans, many conference attendees asked questions like, “I teach U.S. History, how does that relate to archaeology?” Luckily, representatives from each society were able to connect with teachers across the broad spectrum of social studies topics and had example lesson plans on hand. To reinforce the idea that social studies teachers already use archaeological information in the classroom, AEC representatives passed out “I Teach Archaeology” stickers. Designed for conference nametags, these handy visuals are also potential conversation-starters beyond the vendor’s booth.
Overall, the attendance of the AEC at the NCSS conference was a success. Archaeologists engaged in hundreds of conversations with educators and armed them with great a great point of contact to access hundreds of educational resources. It was a pleasure to connect with so many fabulous educators. Next year’s NCSS conference is in St. Louis and attendance is expected to be even greater!
National Council for Social Studies
2012 National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies: Chapter 2 – The Themes of Social Studies. National Council for Social Studies, Silver Spring, MD. <http://www.socialstudies.org/standards/strands> Accessed 10 December.