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Yesterday and Today

On-line version ISSN 2309-9003
Print version ISSN 2223-0386

Y&T  n.24 Vanderbijlpark Dec. 2020




Archaeological heritage and education: An international perspective on History Education



Nancy Rushohora

University of Dar es Salaam, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.



(Slovenian National Commission for UNESCO, Ljubljana, Slovenia 2020. ISBN: 9619358988,9789619358986) - Danijela Trskan and Spela Bezjak (eds.)

This series of papers on the role of archaeology and heritage in history lessons in elementary and secondary schools is a unique volume of archaeology in history textbooks and classrooms as well as teaching and learning archaeology through museums and historical sites. Diverse in approach and scope, the book brings forth epistemologies and ontologies of teaching archaeology in elementary and secondary schools ornamented with case-studies from four continents and twelve countries. Cross-cutting issues between archaeology and history particularly in translating knowledge in education and positively impacting the communities' understanding of the significance of history and heritage in their daily lives makes this book relevant to anyone interested in how the past is taught and learned. One of the fundamental questions arising from this volume is who should be responsible for the teaching or inclusion of archaeology in the curricula? As the book shows, archaeology is not a separate subject at primary and secondary schools in many countries. It is however learned in history lessons at risk because history teachers are not usually trained as archaeologists and archaeologists not trained as teachers. Instead of a blame game, the book reservoir twenty-two solid chapters clustered into six parts bringing to light numerous examples, tasks, and projects that learners, educators, and archaeologists can benefit from in teaching or learning.

The first four chapters discuss empirically the marriage between archaeology and history both as disciplines and in education. Literature review and glitches of learning from physical remains in museums, historical sites, or history media are highlighted. Teaching history by using physical remains enables developing student's historical thinking competencies and skills including the elaboration of historical concepts of time, evidence, significance, agency, accounts, empathy, continuity, and change. Moreover, physical remains enable making connections with people who lived in the past. In this book, the term organic historical reasoning-a natural process by which students make such a connection with the past is used. The section concludes with the archaeological based activities implemented in the context of the public education and outreach excavation project created for children's historical thinking and understanding of the past.

The fifth to the eighth chapter commences with ways in which young children can actively engage with historical artefacts integrated into the curriculum. Fascinating however, is how the chapters elaborate teaching young children (up to 8 years old) archaeological reasoning and the differences between knowing, hypotheses, and what is not known. Making inferences using artefacts and their past human context enables students to answer questions about material elements of the objects in connection to human life. When this kind of thinking is applied to communities whose past was wounded by colonialism, political and economic history prescribed as national history worth memorizing surpasses developing students' notion of history through material culture. Archaeology is of service to those communities whose history has been attributed to outsiders taking away the past and heritage from their owners. The four chapters of the second section are concluded with the study that exposes the role of materiality in school and museum environments and the possibilities and limitations of each venue.

Archaeology in textbooks is covered in six chapters of the book. The history of archaeological science in history textbooks is reviewed. After the inception of archaeology in the curricula, the amount of archaeological information in history textbooks largely depend on the author. Equally, history curricula do not contain any special didactic recommendations for the use and study of material or archaeology but recommend a visit to museums, archives, and archaeology parks which proves that archaeology finds hold on an important place in history. Various museums incorporate archaeological content into educational programs which are defined by the formal education system. As indicated in this book, in most countries the archaeological information in textbook change with time to either increase (take the case of Lithuania) or decrease (take the case of Zimbabwe). It has also been established that elementary school textbooks place greater emphasis on archaeological sources on the work of archaeologists and on archaeology than secondary school textbooks. Archaeology has also been used in schools as a political tool to push a particular agenda. This occurs as an aftermath of a conflict or in search of 'truth' about the past. The benefit of collaboration between history and other disciplines in a transdisciplinary approach is in bringing history to life. Adding archaeological finds, effectively makes history real and activates all senses thus assisting historical inquiry in becoming less abstract. Archaeological principles can assist in historical thinking and competencies among students rather than to recall historical facts. Through incorporating archaeology in history learning, students could master competencies such as evaluating historical sources, asking historical questions, examining causality, and contextualizing historical events including understanding technological development of different historical periods and understanding of time. No doubt, that archaeology is a romantic subject and the reason for teaching it in schools was originally due to its appeal of mystery and adventure that has been conveyed in popular culture. Exploiting these qualities of archaeology for the students to understand their past better should not only be the role of educator is alone but also historians and archaeologists.

Three important venues are used for archaeology in history: the classroom, historical site, and museum. The book presents these three venues as to where active learning approaches take place in order to encourage the active role of learners, enhance their motivation, develop their abilities and skills, enable a better understanding of history topics and promote a positive evaluation of cultural heritage. The book refers to this approach as experiential, multi-perspective, inquiry-based, and multisensory learning. Archaeological sites make traces of history in ones surrounding area accessible and tangible. Their authenticity fascinates and motivates children to look and ask questions. Archaeological sites make history tangible and active in the immediate vicinity. Nonetheless, archaeology is not mentioned in most of the curriculum even though it would be impossible to teach some of the historical topics without using archaeology particularly in topics predating written records. The book's description of activities to work with children makes this book potential for history and archaeology educators. A presentation of activities that can be done by children such as cut out characters, colouring pages, drawing, designing and describing parts, which students can perform individually in the classroom, or at museum space indicates how learning of archaeology can be approached for students of all ages and different backgrounds. Games such as the rubbish bag and rot or not are hands-on examples for all educators.

The last two chapters are about the application of historical knowledge in the protection of community heritage against destruction and assisting educators in finding resources for the classroom. The resistance of the citizens on mining projects in favour of community heritage presents an interesting case worth being in textbooks as suggested by the authors. It signals that the whole community will protect when the community is aware of history, archaeological, and cultural heritage, important historical sites. The last chapter of the book suggests English articles, books, and online resources on archaeological education. These books can help history teachers and students/ future teachers to successfully integrate archaeology in the teaching of history in primary and secondary school. The last chapter is a bit disappointing as it only gives the outline. For areas that access to other resources would be challenging, giving out a synopsis would have helped rather than the list alone. Given the list of the material mentioned in the last chapter alone, it partly indicates that to provide that annotated list and do justice to it, the chapter would have been a standalone manual with a synopsis of the material. That way, educators who are

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