9th Experimental Archaeology Conference key note – Schindler

Experimental archaeology, and the value of authentic learning experiences in Higher Education pedagogy

Bill Schindler

Washington College, Chestertown

University classroom instruction has traditionally relied upon static teaching and learning strategies where students remain seated and are expected to “absorb” information. Students are then assessed through exams where they regurgitate information in a written format. Engaging, out of the box activities in these settings take the form of in-class discussions or debates that allow students to “further explore” the material. This type of teaching is no longer
acceptable.

Recently, new teaching and learning initiatives have set the bar higher. Innovative buzzwords in progressive pedagogy include: whole body, project-based, hands-on learning. While faculty scramble to find ways of meeting these new expectations in their teaching, it turns out that, as in many aspects of modern life, lessons from the past can inform us how to do, what we are currently doing, better. Humans have always learned best while using all of their senses and engaging their entire bodies to solve real problems. In fact, these pedagogical strategies are most meaningful when engaging students in projects entirely from the beginning to end – where nothing is shielded from them. This approach, also known as “soul authorship,” provides much more authentic learning experiences.

This presentation will demonstrate how incorporating experimental archaeology and primitive technology in the higher educational classroom provides a natural fit for meeting the demands of these novel pedagogical demands. Case studies will highlight examples where “soul authorship” teaching and learning, utilizing experimental archaeology and primitive technology, provided students with entirely new levels of investment and understanding.

 

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