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Archivist as Teacher?

Release Date: 21 September 2016

Our Education Development Officer, Douglas Roberts, is at the Scottish Learning Festival today to talk about the James Maxton project which we have been working on with Glasgow City Archives.

So, on the theme of Education and Archives thought we would share this great article from our 2014 Education Special Edition of Broadsheet.

Top Ten Tips from the 2014 Archives for Learning and Education Section (ALES) of the Archives and Records Association conference: ‘The Archivist as Teacher’.

By Alison Diamond

  1. Archivists should not under-estimate the value of what they offer. ‘Good History’ (which will survive curriculum changes) teaches a pupil the core values of historical research: to be both sceptical and informed, and to question historical sources as well as to under-stand the context in which they were created.
  2. The tangible resources provided by archaeology, museums and archives provide the basis for good stories – and it’s the stories that pupils remember.
  3. Consult a teacher to ensure the content of your session is relevant and to assist in managing the class itself. If you can find someone predisposed to archives and history then you’ve hit the jackpot!
  4. We focus on the history curriculum when we could be teaching archival skills: reading old handwriting, learning research skills, archival theory and oral history recording, even cataloguing. The archive itself might benefit directly from this type of session.
  5. Our audiences are changing and are not limited to schools: part of our role is to help people to access archives, and ‘people’ may include family historians, local community groups and, given new Government priorities to promote equality and tackle poverty and social exclusion, the unemployed, those with mental and physical problems etc.
  6. Curriculum changes in Scotland mean that schools are positively encouraged to collaborate with external partners. Collaboration requires a community of experts and educators; so archivists and teachers have complimentary, equally valuable skills.
  7. Archivists are a ‘living resource’ and guardians of authenticity, with a particular expertise in understanding an archive and the significance of its arrangement.
  8. There are skills that archivists can learn to assist them in devising and leading activities based on their archival resources, which can give archivists the confidence to use their archives.
  9. Archivists are not teachers but they are expert witnesses and bring something different to the classroom: knowledge, skills, unique experience and enthusiasm – students will see and respond to that passion.
  10. Structuring a successful learning experience requires specific knowledge of learning and pupils’ development. Some archivists can and do learn these skills; others lack the desire or the time to do so. Is there a role in archives for Learning Officers who deliver on behalf of curators as in museums?

Read and download the full edition of Broadsheet