Kathryn Kamp 2014-01-09 01:46:14
Kathryn Kamp is Earl D. Strong Professor of Social Studies in the Department of Anthropology at Grinnell College. As archaeologists, sooner or later all of us find ourselves teaching, whether in a formal classroom or an airplane seat, to a scout troop or to a client, or in any of the other multiple contexts in which we find ourselves called upon as experts. While the appropriate materials and pedagogies obviously vary considerably, depending on the parameters of the exact situation, it is useful to have a basic framework for the types of messages that we want to convey. Some 15 years ago, in response to a number of factors including a burgeoning interest in archaeology among the public, new cultural resource management laws, and increased engagement of descendent and local communities, a group of archaeologists met in the small community of Wakulla Springs, Florida, to talk about the state of the discipline (Snow 2000). In part, they were concerned that old curricular models had stressed the production of archaeologists whose major goal would be academic teaching and research, but believed the new disciplinary landscape made it desirable and perhaps even mandatory to broaden both the target audience and the target curricular goals. The group devised seven principles for curricular reform, modeled in part on SAA’s Principles of Archaeological Ethics, which stressed the teaching of relevant skills, principles, and values. The re-envisioned archaeology curriculum mandated instructors to adhere to seven principles: (1) discuss the importance of stewardship, (2) take into account the diverse pasts of stakeholders, (3) articulate the social relevance of the past, (4) include a consideration of archaeological ethics and values, (5) teach effective written and oral communication, (6) provide fundamental archaeological skills, and (7) incorporate real-world problem solving. These principles, first described in articles in the SAA Bulletin (Davis et al. 1999; Lynott et al. 1999) and later expanded upon in an entire volume, Teaching Archaeology in the Twenty- First Century (Bender and Smith 2000), have formed the focus of SAA’s approach to instruction, and the Committee on Curriculum is charged with overseeing their implementation. As part of this effort, the committee attempted a study to determine the extent to which archaeological instruction at the undergraduate and graduate levels currently stresses the seven principles. We were told that the Board wanted to protect members’ time, so we were not allowed to conduct a survey. As an alternative, we decided to examine syllabi for archaeology courses. Committee members collected 981 syllabi and rated them on a 0 to 3 scale for the level of attention to each of the seven principles. Most syllabi were rated by eight committee members, and the ratings for each element were then averaged (Table 1). In addition to the non-random nature of the sample of syllabi, the major difficulty was the problem of evaluating course content merely on the basis of a syllabus. Thus, the ratings are probably systematically lower than if the committee had had more detailed information about how the topics and assigned readings were dealt with in class. That said, some patterns did appear. Stewardship was the least emphasized principle. This seems paradoxical, especially given the over-representation of introductory courses. If archaeologists should be interested in inculcating any single principle in the general, non-archaeologist population, it should be an understanding of the inherent value of archaeological resources and the need for all responsible citizens to see themselves as stewards of the past. Like stewardship, ethics and values appear to be less emphasized than one would hope, although perhaps part of this is an artifact of the analysis procedure. Some of the other patterns were expectable. Thus, fundamental archaeological skills are most emphasized in field schools and methods classes, while attempts to reach out to diverse audiences and demonstrate the social relevance of archaeology were less evident. Area courses appeared to stress fundamental archaeological skills and real-world problem solving less than other classes. Many of these patterns Were anticipated by the original framers of the principles (Bender 2000, Davis et al. 1999); nevertheless, they do not appear inevitable. I augmented the survey results with a completely unscientific, casual survey of a few colleague- friends, simply to find out whether they were even aware of the existence of the seven principles. In fact, at the moment they are rather invisible, appearing primarily in print, but no longer on the SAA website— at least, in any place that I could find them. Some were aware of the principles, but could not list them, and others were aware of “Making Archaeology Relevant in the XXI Century (MATRIX),” an NSF-funded project that created materials for teaching archaeology to undergraduates, utilizing the principles (Pyburn and Smith 2014). Unfortunately, teaching materials in archaeology quickly become dated. This happened to the MATRIX syllabi and supporting documents, and the MATRIX website, formerly hosted by Anne Pyburn at the University of Indiana, has now been closed. These facts convinced the committee that it would be useful to remind SAA members of SAA’s seven principles by submitting a series of short articles to The SAA Archaeological Record, one on each principle. One observation that seems striking in an age of learning goals and learning assessment is the lack of reliance on SAA’s seven principles when specifying learning objectives. Although, as is the norm in education today, many syllabi provided learning goals, only a single syllabus explicitly referred to SAA’s seven principles. A few of the learning goals listed in syllabi were clearly institutionally mandated, but more seemed to be inspired by the instructor and the specific class. Whether there is an institutional requirement for providing learning goals, or the instructor wishes to do so for pedagogical reasons, the SAA principles provide a nice set. In addition to expressing archaeological priorities, the agendas are consistent with both liberal arts and current trends in pedagogy. The group that devised the principles was at the time mindful of “the resonance between the skills and principles being advocated and traditional liberal arts values” and “sought to emphasize this complementary aspect” (Bender 2000:32). This liberal arts orientation makes it possible for archaeology curricula to coordinate well with institutional learning goals at diverse institutions of higher education as well as at the high-school and grade-school levels. As the seven principles point out, the ability to communicate well in a variety of genres and to varying types of audiences is critical to archaeology as a profession. Both writing and oral communication are also educational goals for nearly all, if not all, educational institutions. The same is true of critical thinking. While teaching critical thinking skills is not listed as a single principle, this skill suffuses archaeology with its competing paradigms and reliance on multiple lines of evidence. Contemporary concerns with reaching out to diverse groups, both global and local, and appreciating the social and political implications of knowledge are also both directly reflected in the goals set out by SAA. Modern pedagogical theories are also very consistent with the seven principles. Archaeology is everywhere, and everyone’s heritage is reflected in the archaeological record, making it possible for every student to become involved with archaeological inquiry on several levels. On the one hand, archaeology investigates the great questions about the ways that human societies have changed over time; on the other hand, it studies the specifics of the local, the places with meaning in personal histories. This kind of engagement inspires learning. The emphasis on practical, hands-on learning as reflected in both the archaeological skills and the real world problem-solving objectives is also consistent with Modern pedagogies. These not only engage students, but also provide vehicles for instructing less mathematically inclined students in core quantitative skills and emphasizing critical thinking. The current principles provide an excellent foundation for devising curricula. Nevertheless, we should not be complacent. Just as the archaeological landscape had changed drastically between the 1960s and the late 1990s (Krass 2000), it is in the process of constant flux, and even the original participants continue to refine and interrogate their model (Smith 2008). We need to be constantly assessing both our curricular goals and our pedagogical techniques. The current series of articles is designed to provide background on the principles for curricular reform designed in 1999 and a brief discussion of each of the principles. We are hoping that they will inspire additional discussion and perhaps a series of other short Archaeological Record articles that inspire still more teaching reforms for the second part of the twenty-first century. References Cited Bender, Susan J. (editor) 2000 A Proposal to Guide Curricular Reform for the Twenty- First Century. In Teaching Archaeology in the Twenty-First Century, edited by Susan J. Bender and George S. Smith, pp. 31–48. Society for American Archaeology, Washington, D. C. Bender, Susan J., and George S. Smith (editors) 2000 Teaching Archaeology in the Twenty-First Century. Society for American Archaeology, Washington, D.C. Davis, Hester A, Jeffrey H. Altschul, Judith Bense, Elizabeth M. Brumfiel, Shereen Lerner, James J. Miller, Vincas P. Steponaitis, and Joe Watkins 1999 Teaching Archaeology in the 21st Century: Thoughts on Undergraduate Education. SAA Bulletin 17(1). Krass, Dorothy Schlotthauer 2000 What Is the Archaeology Curriculum? In Teaching Archaeology in the Twenty-First Century, edited by Susan J. Bender and George S. Smith, pp. 9–15. Society for American Archaeology, Washington, D.C. Lynott, Mark J., David G. Anderson, Glen H. Doran, Ricardo J. Elia, Maria Franklin, K. Anne Pyburn, Joseph Schuldenrein, and Dean R. Snow 1999 Teaching Archaeology in the 21st Century: Thoughts on Graduate Education. SAA Bulletin 17(1). Pyburn, K. Anne, and George S. Smith 2014 The MATRIX Project (Making Archaeology Teaching Relevant in the XXIst Century): An Approach to the Efficient Sharing of Professional Knowledge and Skills with a Large Audience. In Sharing Archaeology:Academe, Practice, and the Public, edited by Peter Stone. Routledge Press, London, in press. Smith, George S. 2008 Teaching and Learning Archaeology: Skills, Knowledge and Abilities for the Twenty-first Century. Research in Archaeological Education 1(1):6–14. Snow, Dean 2000 Foreword. In Teaching Archaeology in the Twenty-First Century, edited by Susan J. Bender and George S. Smith, pp. V–vi. Society for American Archaeology, Washington, D.C. Note 1. While 108 total syllabi were collected, some were not used in the analysis because either they represented the same course offered in a different semester or they did not include sufficient information for an informed analysis. Professional Development the Easy Way • SAA’s Online Seminar Series is now available for students and archaeologists seeking professional development opportunities. • Enhance your skill set and knowledge base quickly and easily in just an hour or two. • Keep up to date on developments in the field with the help of a leading expert. • Advance in your job or career: You’ll receive a certificate of completion from SAA, and RPAs will receive continuing education credit. SAA Online seminars are RPA Certified. Visit www.saa.org for detailed information, registration, and schedules for these upcoming courses: • An Introduction to the Section 106 Process. Instructor: Thomas Green, RPA. • Publishing Your First Article in American Antiquity. Instructor: Dr. Ken Sassaman, RPA. • Introduction to Archaeological Damage Assessment. Instructor: Martin E. McAllister, RPA.
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