Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Egyptian discovery

This post describes a demonstration 'mantle' lesson at a school that I have supported through outreach work. The class was unknown to me.

Today, the Egyptologists at Cambridge University had a big dilemma. Do they drop everything to visit a new tomb that had been unearthed, or ignore this news?

Well the Egyptologists decided they had better go, in case the experts from Harvard got there first. They were glad they did. The paintings in the tomb showed aspects of Egyptian life that they had not seen before.

This mantle activity started with me in role as a disgruntled Egyptologist, who felt that she was too busy to be bullied into going to Cairo. Decision alley was used and the majority decided that the team should go. Some of the children were a little apprehensive (and maybe confused!) at this point.

They showed me through thought tracking how the archaelogist was feeling. Armed with 'security passes' and special cameras (clipboard and paper with a pencil attached) they travelled to Egypt and took photos in the tomb (pictures around the walls of the school hall). The children were engaged and nearly all settled quickly into the task of recording their findings.

Other strategies during this session included thought tracking the emotions of a new Egyptologist's first impressions of the tomb and creating a tableaux of the paintings. They then created a soundscape to bring the paintings to life.

Back at the University, the team started the task of making the world aware of their findings, via a news report. Preparation for filming began in earnest. That's where I left, for another job.

A few of the children's views of the session (no negative opinions):

  • I really liked it when the professor came in. ( A repeated opinion. I was loud and cross when I entered the classroom in role!)

  • I liked working in the big space in the 'tomb'

  • I liked it because even though we weren't learning from books, we were still learning

  • I liked sharing my ideas when we were preparing for the film reports

  • It was really fun (this was a repeated view)

The teacher reported that even children who would not usually speak in class had amazed her by participating and voicing their opinions. An enjoyable experience for me!

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