Diversity of Ages. Mind the Gap– Where are the young people in archaeology?

Posted on June 29, 2016

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This Wednesday’s list of conference videos (almost done with TAG).

Session abstract: The provision of archaeology for those under the age of 16 could be considered good. The change to the National Curriculum in 2013, increased the opportunities for children to learn about archaeology. In terms of provision at an extra-curricular level, there are numerous archaeological clubs and societies within organisations, like the National Parks and regional museums. As well as the Young Archaeologists’ Club, which currently has over 70 branches located across the country. But many of these are only provided for children and young people up to the age of 16, with limited opportunity of involvement thereafter. For post-16 and university students the provision is very limited. Some students have access to an Archaeological Society but many are not directly involved in fieldwork. Unless students are actively looking for fieldwork or career experience the options are limited and some are uninspiring. In regards to provisions elsewhere, the usual demographic of local archaeological and historical societies, leans towards the older generations and this may seem like an unattractive option to young people. The provision for young people in the discipline of archaeology varies greatly. Young people are the future of heritage management. A lack of understanding and a disconnection with heritage could lead to a disastrous consequence for the future of archaeology. The CITiZAN project defines young people as those between the ages of 16-25, a group of people who are usual not represented in the demographic of community archaeology projects. The CITiZAN project aims to encourage young people to participate in archaeological projects in a number of ways, which will be discussed during the session. This session will seek to investigate the reasons behind why young people feel disengaged with heritage and how the provision for young people with an interest in archaeology can be improved.

CITiZAN: Young people and a national community project

CITiZAN, the Coastal and Inter Tidal Zone Archaeological Network, is a new Heritage Lottery Funded project, run in partnership with the National Trust and Crown Estate. Many of England’s coastal and estuarine sites are increasingly under threat from erosion, and have no statutory protection. The aim of the project is to establish a network of volunteers through outreach and training events and equip them with the skills and support they need to record and monitor these fragile archaeological sites. Young people in archaeology can be found in a variety of places; in schools, extra-curricular activities like the Young Archaeologists’ Club and museum clubs, in Universities and as individuals on community projects or as work experience students. As part of the project, CITiZAN aim to open up archaeology even further and to make archaeology more inclusive for young people. Since April 2015, CITiZAN has targeted organisations associated with young people, between the ages of 16-25; these include Young Archaeologists’ Clubs, Girl guiding UK and university students. There are plans to extend this even further in 2016-17. This paper seeks to show how CITiZAN have been actively trying to include young people within a community archaeology project and how it will continue to do so in the coming years. It will also comment on the success of integrating them into the project in its debut year.

Lara BAND, Alex BELLISARIO and Megan CLEMENT (CITiZAN)

Archaeology for all – even young people!

The Council for British Archaeology has considerable experience of working with young people aged under 16 through its long-established – and award winning – Young Archaeologists’ Club (www.yac-uk.org). There has been a long-standing issue of how to sustain the interest of YAC members once they reach 16 when opportunities are far fewer. This has partially been addressed via the growth of community archaeology and the CBA bursary programme – funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund – to train archaeologists with the ‘soft skills’ needed to encourage and facilitate engagement, particularly of young people. The CBA is also working with younger members to consider options for engaging post-16 year olds. Options to be outlined for discussion include expanding the provision of A Level Archaeology to allow students to study archaeology as an academic discipline for the first time, establishing support networks and event programmes to bring together young people to provide mutual support, and also promoting training in various ways.

Mike HEYWORTH (Council for British Archaeology)

Kids In Museums

Young people are the holy grail of ‘engagement’ in many sectors, but to foster that engagement you have to be relevant to young people. Research from various organisations like Ipsos Mori and others gives us some idea of young people’s perceptions of culture and heritage, and has shown that young people are very worried about their future and want to gain experiences and learn skills that will set them apart from their peers. The work of Kids in Museums has encouraged museums, galleries and heritage sites to try to understand what young people want and to give it to them. Organisations with public venues and collections have tried many different models with varying success, e.g. young volunteering, youth panels, apprenticeships, young consultants, Takeover Day, and have tapped in to existing schemes like the Duke of Edinburgh Award, Arts Award and the CREST awards. These often engage the usual suspects, white middle class kids, and targeted funded projects are usually needed to work with young people from, for example, minority ethnic backgrounds, those not in education, employment or training or those excluded from school. Could any of these models of engagement work in the diverse archaeological sector?

Kim BUDDULPH (Kids in Museums)

Rules of engagement: a student perspective

We are a team of students at the University of Manchester who undertook a piece of research in spring 2015 to understand whether students felt valued, and indeed whether they are valued in the interpretive process of archaeological fieldwork. In this paper we will present an overview of our findings, and reflect on our own experiences through extracurricular activities, as well as fieldwork completed throughout out study at the University of Manchester. As archaeology society committee members we will touch upon the efforts that our society is making to encourage more varied age groups to be more engaged with the archaeological process. We will also present some of the various ways our department uses its resources, including the Manchester Museum, to better engage students and members of the public with the past. Can the experiences of students help us think about how we communicate in the field with not only each other, but with other audiences? Does better university-student engagement lead to better student-public engagement?

Matt HITCHCOCK, Stephanie-Adele MCCULLOCH and Liya WALSH (University of Manchester)

The experience of an early career archaeologist

As an early stage career archaeologist and a young person (16-25 years) my experience, concerns and development will have been the same as many other individuals in similar positions; personal experience may help to shed light on where provision for young people is lacking and how it can be improved. To do so I will be splitting this paper into two; provision I experienced and provision I help to provide, to try and understand and tackle the issues surrounding it. As a young person my first experience with archaeology was aged 16, which was the first time I experienced an archaeological excavation, but my interested was sparked nearly ten years previous. Since then I have gone on to do an undergraduate degree at the University of Bradford and used their placement scheme, undertaken a Community Archaeology Training Placement Bursary (youth-focused) with the Council for British Archaeology and am now working as an outreach archaeologist for the Coastal and Intertidal Zone Archaeological Network. I will explore from my perspective what provision was available for myself, as a young person, interested in archaeology. I will also discuss the opportunities I have helped to create. I will do this by looking at a variety of projects, I have had involvement with which were specifically created for young people to interact with archaeology; these included working with Young Archaeologists Clubs, working in schools and more recently targeting specific groups of young people such as Duke of Edinburgh and Girl Guiding UK.

Megan CLEMENT (CITiZAN)

 

 

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