Public Archaeology and Education

Both Moe and Jeppson believe archaeology should be taught in public education. Where they differ is that Moe (2002) explains the Project Archaeology program while Jeppson (2008) explains that archaeology is considered a “social study” that is taught from kindergarten to fourth grade. However, Jeppson continues to explain how social studies then branches into specific educational fields from fifth thru 12th grade. As this occurs social studies is becoming less of a focus for studies.

Moe did a fantastic job painting a picture of the project that was being held, however, in the time it was written only nine states had adapted the Project Archaeology program. Those states include Utah, Oregon, Arizona, Alaska, New Mexico, Wyoming, Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Alabama. The program is a great hands-on experience that allows students to better understand the general concept of the approach archaeologist take. This project has allowed for students to be filled with beneficial information that encourages them to ask more questions, especially as they age. Project Archaeology is not only a hands-on approach, it also provides lessons. These lessons teach the students about the past and how to better understand culture. Not only are the students learning something new, but most educators as well. The schools that engage in this project train their educators so they could properly inform and engage the students.

Jeppson (2008) takes a bit of a different approach. Jeppson informs the reader about the lack of teaching being done. Jeppson tells us how most archaeologist do not wish to become educators and how teaching archaeology in schools is controversial. By allowing schools, k-12, to teach about archaeology is compared to teaching about creationism. This becomes problematic because of the separation that needs to be made between schools and religion.  Through thought and review I believe there needs to be a combination of what Moe and Jeppson address.

Compare Project Archaeology to the Hidalgo County Public Cemetery Project (HCPCP). Our class is a hands-on experience while also offering lessons. I believe our project could be considered a gate-way to teaching archaeology in public education. When teaching students at a younger age about all the unanswered questions we almost all ask will intrigue the students. We will have already introduced the subject to these students that may find a passion for it. Through education while growing up it is a responsibility to teach the students everything they can to allow them to find their passion. In middle and high school, we learn a lot about the important wars and challenges that changed a portion of our history (i.e. WWII, The Great Depression, 9/11, etc), but a lot of schools are not teaching about what came before that. In offering hands-on teaching experiences and more relocatable historical changes we can better encourage students to learn and understand not only ourselves but others. They will understand local cultures as well as others. (This could encourage against the possibility of ethnocentrism). I can confirm, had my high school offered similar opportunities to the ones I have been offered in college I would have enjoyed myself a lot more and I would not feel behind. Our project could offer high school students the chance to broaden their knowledge.

0 thoughts on “Public Archaeology and Education

  1. I do agree with a lot this post has to say about teaching archaeology in schools. As myself, I do hope archaeology becomes an elective in schools just to show that there are interesting things happening locally. As a high schooler, I was always interested about getting out of the RGV because I believe there wasn’t much to it. However, there is a lot of need for help in the RGV, where people continue to ask a lot of unanswered questions. It’s important to show them that archaeology can help answer most.

  2. Education is very important in any field and what Moe and Jeppson give is an interesting view on this issue. Public archaeology along with others should be introduced at an early stage of education so that students may have a more enriching environment to develop and find their passions. If I had more classes that included more hands on work, I believe I would have been both engaged and more knowledgeable on what I was learning. That’s honestly the unique portion of this class because we get to reflect and learn about important themes, key concepts, while working in an environment very familiar with what we are learning. So really it blends well and helps us grow as individuals, both scholarly and personally.

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