Inclusivity and the Pedagogy of Archaeology

Posted on July 20, 2015


This post is from the TAG conference back in December. Apologies for not getting this up sooner. Been a very busy year. Some info on the session:

Session organisers: Katy Bell (University of Winchester) and Ellen McInnes (University of Manchester)

“If you have decided to become an archaeologist you will need a reasonable education in archaeology” ( begins one career advice website. In this session we will argue that the pedagogy of archaeology goes beyond the practice of preparing the archaeologists of the future. As an inclusive discipline archaeology attracts a wide range of people who use the subject as a transition between points. This session explores this role of archaeology within Higher Education and the community, alongside, and as part of, strategies of teaching and engagement. Confirmed papers look at the inclusion of people with Asperger’s Syndrome in Higher Education, and the development of Higher Education teaching. However, the session aims to include a variety of examples of where the inclusive nature of archaeology, as both a subject and practice, has encouraged academic, personal, and community development. Papers are encouraged, which consider how new and innovative ways of teaching facilitate the development of participants and allow them to make a transition, be it socially, mentally or financially.

The Unexpected Outcomes of Engaging Academics

Alison Atkin

Archaeology conferences present delegates with an overwhelming amount of information within a limited period of time. Aimed at individuals with higher education experience, presentations are often filled with complex detailed specialist information following standard guidelines. As a consequence interesting topics can become impenetrable to those outside the immediate area of research. This limits both the impact of the presentation and is potentially isolating to individuals in attendance.
This paper will present an example of a conference presentation that utilised outreach tactics in order to engage with the wider academic community, which resulted in unexpected further outreach outcomes. At the 16th Annual Conference of the British Association of Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology I presented a poster titled ‘The Attritional Mortality Myth: a catastrophic error with demography’. The poster incorporated numerous design aspects typically reserved for public engagement (interactivity, conversational language, illustrations, social media prompts, etc).
This poster generated a significant amount of discussion amongst conference delegates and was ultimately awarded the Bill White Prize for best poster. Since the conference, it has been viewed online over 20,000 times and discussion – about both the poster and the research presented – has continued on social media, blogs, and via e-mail. In presenting post-graduate level research in an accessible, engaging, and ‘un-academic’ manner, this poster opened the door to the ivory tower allowing a free-flow of information and ideas in both directions. This paper aims to demonstrate that for the betterment of our discipline we need to be both engaging… and engaged, beyond our subdisciplinary silos within archaeology.

The Edinburgh Archaeology Outreach Project

Hannah McGlynn by Katy Bell

The Edinburgh Archaeology Outreach Project is a non-profit, free community archaeology group run by students of the University of Edinburgh. Our primary function is to enable children to have the opportunity to engage in a field that they perhaps feel they can’t get involved in. We are not the only project to tackle this; we are in fact only a drop in the ocean when it comes to archaeological outreach. There are programs being run throughout Britain doing fantastic things to build upon community archaeology. To name but a few there is the Young Archaeologist’s Club in York who are creating aerial maps of archaeologically significant landmarks in a way that they are accessible to those who are partially sighted. The Society of Antiquaries of Scotland are running Dig It! 2015 in which they are promoting and running a host of nationwide events and talks as well as promoting projects, of which EAOP is one, and the majority are catered towards children. These are just a small handful of the pretty cool outreach and community work being done. This of course then highlights the question of where in amongst all this is the need for the Edinburgh Archaeology Outreach Project? Why are we here? What makes us different? To answer these questions an important number should be remembered, that number is 220,000.

Archaeology- the Dyslexic Profession or the Profession of Dyslexics?

Doug Rocks-Macqueen

How many Archaeologists are Dyslexic? Using data from the Profiling the Profession series, the Disabilities in Archaeology project and HESA, I present what we know about dyslexia in UK Archaeology and how many archaeologists and students have it. Also, discussed will be the disconnect we see between the very high number of students who have it and the very few professionals that do. The rest of the paper will focus on what these findings mean for UK Archaeology. Also, some of the more disturbing trends seen in the UK, such as cuts to funding for those with disabilities like Dyslexia, and what those might mean for Archaeology.

Archaeology and Autism

Katy Bell

As someone who has worked with university students and in the field it has become obvious that increasing amounts of people who have autistic tendencies are entering both higher education and the field. Based on a paper written for my Teaching In Higher Education Certificate this paper aims to look at the reasons why archaeology as a discipline attracts those with autistic tendencies and how we can help them transcend from higher education into effective fieldworkers. This paper draws on evidence gathered from existing fieldworkers in archaeology and observation in teaching and talking to students. In addition it considers the best practice that can be adopted to help universities, units and those living with autism to succeed.

If you have any feedback please drop me a line in the comments. To see more videos like these please go to the YouTube channel Recording Archaeology-

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