Presenting a plural past: Archaeology and public education

1997 1997

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Abstract (summary)

Archaeology has an ethical imperative to promote the preservation of cultural heritage materials and to make those cultural heritage materials available to the public. At the same time educators are seeking to provide students with an understanding of the positive nature of diversity, to help them grasp both the commonalities of being human and the inherent differences which enrich various cultures. Clearly, there is a common interest here. Archaeology and its parent discipline anthropology, provide one means of teaching about cultures, both past and present.

Archaeology is a social construction which demands a continuing dialogue between the past and the present. It is this interactive process, this questioning attitude, that is essential to impart to school age children. Interpretations of cultural heritage need to be viewed as selective and varied. Children need to know that the same history creates many pasts and many heritages. By making the unwritten past available to the public, archaeology has the potential to supply children with inclusive interpretations of the past.

This project introduces educators to the value of using archaeological and anthropological concepts to inform a plural past. It also hopes to convince archaeologists of the value of public education. As educators teach children the value of respecting differences, using cultural heritage materials, they are at the same time building respect for the materials themselves. This respect for cultural heritage materials will create support for the study of archaeology and the preservation of archaeological materials.

This dissertation proposes that a grade school curriculum based on archaeological and anthropological concepts will promote intercultural understanding. The project: investigates the theoretical background which justifies utilizing archaeology in public education, examines the current situation in Minnesota public schools and surrounding states, looks at good examples of state archaeology programs, and surveys grade school teachers, assessing what they are now doing, and what they would like to be doing, to promote intercultural education. An archaeology-based multicultural program for grades one to three is proposed. A pilot project for grade one evaluates the proposed program. Appendices present a handbook for grade one teachers and survey research materials.

Indexing (details)

Elementary education;
Bilingual education;
Multicultural education
0324: Archaeology
0524: Elementary education
0282: Bilingual education
0282: Multicultural education
Identifier / keyword
Social sciences; Education; cultural heritage
Presenting a plural past: Archaeology and public education
Whiting, Nancy Carolyn
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 58/05, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
9780591444865, 0591444860
Gibbon, Guy
University of Minnesota
University location
United States -- Minnesota
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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