Teaching with Archaeology across Disciplines
Hi there! I’m Sarah, MAECON’s first ever intern. I’m really excited to be working with MAECON to bring archaeology to a wider audience.
One of my first tasks as an intern was to comb through the Massachusetts state standards in each subject area, just to get a sense of what the state expects teachers to cover. Let me tell you, if you’ve never tried to read through 1000+ pages of curriculum, I probably wouldn’t recommend it. All those long hours paid off, though, because I was able to find lots of unexpected avenues for working archaeology into the existing curriculum. You might not think that archaeology would have much of a place in an art, music, or foreign language classroom, but you’d be surprised! How about comparing cave paintings and modern art, making and playing traditional instruments, or reporting on archaeological discoveries in other countries in their native language? Once you look at the standards through the lens of archaeology, ideas start jumping out at you left and right!
One of MAECON’s main goals is to show teachers and other educators that archaeology doesn’t need to be a whole separate lesson plan or subject that they need to drop everything and shoehorn into their lessons, but can actually be used to supplement existing subjects. In many instances, archaeology can be a fun vehicle for addressing areas that some students might find uninteresting or challenging. For example, maybe some children are really engaged by and do well in history, but struggle with math and science. Using archaeology as an example in math and science lessons could be a great way to bring these students in and get them excited. They could measure the volumes of reconstructed vessels, or learn about erosion by studying its impact on archaeological sites. Because archaeology is so interdisciplinary, it can be applied to any subject successfully, and used to draw connections between otherwise seemingly disparate ideas. The possibilities are endless!
While a lot of my work has focused on curriculum standards, I don’t want to suggest that archaeology can only be used as an educational tool by classroom teachers. Educators of all sorts can benefit from the interdisciplinary nature of archaeology. It really can be a great way to breathe new life into the same old subjects and get your students excited about learning.
Check out our activity plans (under the Resources tab) for more ideas, and get creative! If you have questions about incorporating archaeology or if you’d like your students to be able to talk with a real archaeologist, feel free to send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re here to help in any way we can!
-Sarah Johnson, MAECON intern