Participate in an archaeological field course investigating ancient rock art from the Paleolithic through the Roman era, then independently research techniques and medium used in ancient art of Naples and Pompeii, to educate students on the historical context and multifaceted nature of symbols and how they can both divide and unite a society.
Through my experience of studying and uncovering rock art in Val Camonica, exploring the ruins of Pompeii, and researching ancient Pompeiian frescoes and artifacts, I have gained deeper insight into cultures from prehistory to the Roman era. During my week in the Footsteps of Man archaeological program, I learned and practiced archaeological methods including preparing a field site, identifying and tracing rock art figures, and cataloguing the figures in the lab.
Studying the symbols of civilizations firsthand, particularly the rock engravings and frescoes, helped me to understand more than ever how much the details of a civilization can reveal about the culture from which they emerged. As a high school art teacher, I plan to change my instructional practice to allow more opportunities for students to investigate the artistic details of a culture in order to develop greater understanding of its people.
I have long wondered about the practices of archaeologists, and have thought it would be a fascinating and thrilling experience to discover ancient art and artifacts. It was exciting and gratifying for me to participate in the Footsteps of Man Archaeological Cooperative Society's program, learn the fundamentals of the archaeological process, and especially to contribute to the Society's catalogue of rock art through my fieldwork.
By creating more opportunities for students to investigate the artistic details of a wide range of cultures, I hope to cultivate students' curiosity and foster a deeper understanding of diverse perspectives. Through learning how to research and interpret the symbols of civilizations, students can gain greater awareness of the unifying or divisive power of symbols throughout history, and ultimately apply this insight into seeing how present day symbols impact society positively or negatively.
My FFT team member, Kristin McManus (a history teacher), and I will lead an interdisciplinary project in which students will study and present their research on the meaning of symbols from a wide range of cultures and eras. With their understanding of the power of symbols, students will create symbols of personal significance or that positively represent the school community. They will paint these symbols on ceramic tiles, which we will install as a mural in the school courtyard.
Once our students have studied symbols and completed the ceramic tile mural, Kristin and I will celebrate their learning by organizing a reception for the school and town community to unveil the mural and honor the students' efforts. We plan to work with Arm in Arm, a local community organization that promotes diversity awareness, to invite a speaker to address the attendees of the reception. We hope that students will feel and take pride in their positive contribution to the community.
Within the past couple of years, there have been several incidents of hateful and discriminatory graffiti on school grounds, making it clear that students need to be better educated about the negative impact of such symbols on individuals, communities, and entire societies. By creating positive symbols and installing the ceramic tile mural, students will have an opportunity to collaborate and make a visual statement of community cohesiveness that can counterbalance the hateful graffiti.
My fellowship experience has allowed me to feel the strong connection between education and community activism. Through firsthand research of earlier civilizations and the symbols they have left behind, I have been able to understand more keenly the common themes of humanity that exist across eras and cultures. By drawing parallels between the past and present, I can better educate students about how their actions and marks they make can impact society for better or worse.