The Junior Archaeologists Club of Western Australia is leading the way in inspiring the next generation of heritage professionals to protect our fragile heritage.
Run by archaeologist Sue Carter from STC Archaeology, the Junior Archaeologists Club now includes home school courses for children – and their parents!
Mortimer Wheeler stated that “Archaeology is about people” and making it available to everyday people, especially in the 21st century, is now more important than ever.
Our world is changing, countries are changing, borders and cultures are changing, yet few of our sites and monuments from the past remain stable during this global shift of humanity and consciousness. What relevance does the past hold for future generations?
Constantly being asked,”What’s in it for me?” when discussing archaeology and its importance with the general public, shows a clear misunderstanding of our past and the effects it has not only on our present but also on our future.
So much of Australian history is covered up, not spoken about, and not even discussed or taught in schools. How can a community understand the importance of its heritage if it does not know of it, understand it or learn of its cultural significance in the making of the Nation as it is today?
The Junior Archaeologists Club (JAC) now offers a unique opportunity for hands-on learning and collaboration. With families attending from many communities across the metro area, they are obtaining a clear understanding as to the processes and importance of archaeology, not just locally but state wide too.
An understanding to the significance of Indigenous archaeology is covered in the graduate Australian Archaeology Term; understanding and learning that it is illegal to remove indigenous objects; how to identify if you have discovered one; how to record it; who to report it too; and most importantly of all – to leave it where it is.
Levels of understanding and involvement extend not just to the JAC participants, but also to the extended family and community, when lessons and activities are discussed and their importance passed on.
The benefits of attending the JAC lessons are not purely archaeological – they reach way beyond that
• Interpersonal skills, such as social and listening
• Organization skills, including personal organization and prioritizing
• Analytical skills, like judgements and problem solving
• Personal skills, including insight, personal motivation, confidence, and leadership
The JAC also encourages peer to peer learning and collaboration, recognition and understanding of the diverse range of cultures within its classes, working as a team, self motivation and inclusion on all levels.
Each child has specific learning goals, which may not be directly associated with the classes, but which they achieve by the end of the term; goals such as gaining more confidence, handling anxiety, learning to share and how to collaborate with others.
Graduate classes have so far included Australian Archaeology, Maritime Archaeology, The Archaeology of the Song Dynasty and The Archaeology of the Vikings.
Each Term the parents are given the curriculum areas that will be covered. With a Graduate Diploma in Early Childhood Education, Ms Carter takes away the pain of hours of searching through, and trying to understand, the curriculum. Each lesson has a handout and an activity which backs up the theory. By the end of the term participants have a folder of lesson handouts, images of them undertaking the activities, the curriculum areas covered and the items they have reproduced during the activity sessions, demonstrating hands on immersion in the topic. This is handed to the Home School Moderators; a win-win situation for everyone!
Interpersonal and social skills are important in all areas if life, assisting not just the individual but also families, and communities. Through archaeology, the public can become engaged and also empowered to help with its preservation. Local government authorities are starting to see the value of the program and in Term 2, 2018 Sue will be introducing the JAC to City of Mandurah residents, in collaboration with the Local Government authority.
Local councils and museums are also becoming more involved with community archaeology. STC Archaeology is encouraging them to permit the children to handle artefacts and to become involved with their preservation.
STC Archaeology held a War Horse event at the Army Museum of Western Australia in January. Participants learnt about the role of horses in war and also some of the Australian equine characters that are still honoured and remembered today. Handling artefacts from the Light Horse Regiment and assessing the Beersheba display at the museum meant the participants gained a greater understanding of our equine war heroes.
The highlight of the program was when Ryan, a current JAC member, was cleaning one of the WWI saddles. He discovered that a Trooper from the 10th Light Horse had scratched their name and the regiment into the leather of the saddle just under the back portion of the seat – an incredible discovery by Ryan, aged 9! The confidence and boost in self esteem it has given him is immeasurable.
Archaeology IS for the people….. and the younger they learn about, and become involved in understanding it, the processes and the realization that even children their age can make amazing discoveries, then all involved in JAC know there is the chance that some of our Western Australian heritage may last a few more generations!
With so many distance and isolated learners throughout Australia, word has spread of the classes and the unique learning opportunity it offers both children and their parents. The classes have now been released as a home study course on Teachable, enabling even the remotest families to learn all about the wonderful world of archaeology!
You can view the online course at https://stc-archaeology.teachable.com