I am just starting my new course for George Mason’s Graduate Certificate in Digital Public Humanities– “Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age.” Although I’m the same person that’s been posting in this blog for the last two semesters, I think that certain key characteristics change when a student starts a new class.
As much as I’m coming to the course as a student, I’m also coming as an educator. Not only have I been a TA, but also a substitue teacher in every grade from Pre-K to seniors in high school. I’ve seen first hand how history can be taught, and how the students seem to respond. I’ve subbed for two history clases, and they were far different than the history classes I took in high school- and one class was taught by my former history teacher! History in public schools, at least where I live in CT, seems to be dominated by interactivity, problem solving, and technology. I’m looking forward to learning about the trends I’ve observed.
I’m still a Cultural Resource Management Archaeologist. For this course about teaching and learning, already my part in the construction, and dissemination of, history is at the forefront of my mind. CRM exists because in the 1970’s legislation was passed to protect archaeological resources for the public good. So, from that time forward, the public has had a stake in archaeology. But does the average person know that? Or care? A resounding “no.” When most people still ask if I’m looking for dinosaurs, there is an astronomical disconnect between CRM and the intention of the laws. In this class, I’m really excited to explore this problem further, and consider solutions.
Lastly, I’m coming to this class as a professional in what some see as a dying field. Most American archaeology is CRM. The pipelines are laid, and cell towers erected. Jobs are dwindling. The ivory tower is no safe place either. Anthropology departments are shrinking and projects defunded. These are all symptoms of the first problem I discussed- the vast disconnect between the public and archaeologists. Future archaeologists must convince not just the government, but the public, that what we do is important. We’re really bad at that. If archaeologists are unable to demonstrate that we do more than stock museums and play around in sand for the History Channel, the profession will die. By taking this class, I hope to learn how to more effectively teach students and the public about what I do.
Hannah, the student of “Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age,” is a public school educator, CRM archaeologists, and defender of the profession in training. What I most desire from this class are the tools to be a better educator.