I was stoked about the addition in the new Key Stage 2 history curriculum for England that prehistory was going to be taught. Not that it's called prehistory. For some reason the committee that wrote the curriculum has gone for the clunky Stone Age to Iron Age. Plus they decided that late Neolithic people were hunter-gatherers and Stonehenge was a Bronze Age monument. So far, so bad.
But, it's my job, and the job of a growing number of archaeologists and museum educators, to save the day and bring prehistory to life for pupils and, more importantly, for teachers. Teachers are being bombarded with a huge number of changes they have to make for next academic year and teaching the first million years or so of human occupation of this region that we now call Britain is the last thing on their minds.
Somehow we have to reveal the awesomeness of prehistory, the way it has shaped our land and culture and the amazing achievements of people with relatively little technology. I've been striving throughout my whole career to try to convince children that people in the past were not fundamentally different to us, and that what makes them seem unfamiliar is that they were faced with very different choices and challenges in their lives.
|The familiar and the unfamiliar - the interior of a reconstructed Iron Age roundhouse at the Chiltern Open Air Museum|
Anyway, I set up Schools Prehistory to continue doing this. I've written information booklets to bring together useful stuff for teachers and educators who might not know much about prehistory or archaeology. I'll be writing lesson plans in the new year. Colleagues Towse and Graham Harrison of Sun Jester are also developing replica object boxes and offering object handling training.
Excitingly, Professor Francis Pryor (discoverer of Flag Fen and excavator of Seahenge) got in touch and has checked what I'm telling teachers, as well as writing a blog post for me. Is this enough to get a spark of excitement in primary schools about the new curriculum? I truly hope so.