At work on the project
Last Monday was spent in digging in the grounds of St Mary’s School Horsforth (West Yorkshire, UK). I was being helped by a group of students from Leeds Trinity University. This gave us a unique opportunity to work one-to-one with the children. Usually there are only a couple of adults with the class and I find myself running from child to child in an attempt to answer all their questions. Having more people made the whole thing more relaxing and enjoyable for me.
There’s a serious side to all this though. For the pupils it was a chance to learn about how archaeology works in a practical and fun way. For the students it was an opportunity to see how they might be able to incorporate archaeology into their own classrooms when they become fully qualified teachers.
Finds were not many – several bricks, a few pieces of Victorian/y 20th century pottery, and what might be a George V penny. However, it does prove the point that history is right there under your feet.
For the schoolchildren and the students the project is now over but not for me. I still have a site report to write up. I’ll be putting it up here in a few weeks time.
Finds work with KS3
Last week I began work on a project that will help future teachers to make a greater use of archaeology at KS2. The project is the brain child of Bev Forrest of Leeds Trinity University who wanted to give her students the opportunity to see how archaeology could be used in an educational setting. With the help of the staff of St May’s Horsforth (West Yorkshire, UK) we put together a two day programme in which pupils would carry out fieldwork with me and do classroom archaeology activities with the students.
On Thursday I did some of the preparatory work with Years 3 and 4. I explained how archaeology works. “An archaeologist is someone who makes his living out of other people’s rubbish”, I told them. It’s sometimes difficult to make them see the point – or to get them to grasp the idea that broken pieces of pottery may have no monetary value but they have a lot of value in terms of what they can tell us about the past. Difficult that is, until I get the finds handling collection out. I don’t know why shattered crockery produces so much enthusiasm in children but it certainly does. Perhaps this is because it’s something tangible, something real, a genuine connexion to the past not just something in a book or in a video.
So now I’ve got sixty children fired up about archaeology. I’m doing excavation work with them tomorrow. The students from Trinity are going to be doing other archaeological activities. It’s going to be really exciting. I’m really looking forward to it.