Thursday 4 April 2013

Learning about the Vesuvian sites

The recent publication of In Search of the Romans by James Renshaw seems like a good opportunity to start a discussion on the resources available for learning about the Vesuvian sites. We will be posting a couple of reviews of this book on the blog but it would be of real interest to know what the general consensus is about the material currently available for teaching/learning at all levels, what works and what is missing. What do you want from a text book? What other materials do you need? What themes and case studies are difficult to teach due to a lack of resources? Your feedback in the comments section of the blog or on the Facebook would be really useful - a large number of you in the Blogging Pompeii community teach and are ideally placed to talk about the significance of the Vesuvian sites for teaching archaeology, Classics or Roman courses. I'd also be interested to hear your thoughts on how best to encourage learning on site but also off site (the reality for most) when the fun of the archaeology is far away...

I'll start the ball rolling with some background by James Renshaw on writing In Search of the Romans and what his view is as a UK teacher working with GCSE students. If anyone is available to write similar viewpoints from their teaching experience, please send them to me and I'll post them.

"Being asked to write In Search of the Greeks and In Search of the Romans under the Bristol Classical Press imprint (now owned by Bloomsbury) was a remarkable opportunity for me which came out of the blue. I had been teaching Classical Civilisation GCSE at St Paul's School in London, and had got thoroughly fed up with an exam reading list which was limited to books written decades before. some of which were out of print, and many of which contained glaring errors or inaccuracies. The aim therefore was to write coursebooks which would be up to date, entertaining (hopefully!), and give students a good introduction to Classical Civilisation at GCSE and A Level. I had no idea what mountains I was setting myself to climb, and I know far more about the Greeks and Romans now than I ever did before. 

When it came to writing In Search of the Romans, it was clear that there should be a chapter on Pompeii, since both exam boards (OCR and AQA) have a topic on the city. However, only AQA include Herculaneum as well, and so while I was clear that I wanted a separate chapter on the smaller town, I was not sure which way my editor would go. To my delight, she was enthusiastic, and so we were able to create a separate chapter which in many ways runs as a follow-on to the Pompeii chapter (for example, the eruption is described in detail in the Pompeii chapter). It was not too hard to work out what to include in the Pompeii chapter - together the two boards test a wide variety of information on the site - although I would have liked to have included a little more on Herculaneum, and wonder if readers of this blog have thoughts on what might usefully be added. However, I was very fortunate while writing on Herculaneum to have conversations with Sarah Court of the HCP, and I was able to add in important material on the preservation of the site. I also wanted to introduce students to the debate over the Villa of the Papyri. 

Of course, I couldn't include everything on both sites, and there are a few notable omissions, not least some important houses in each site. I wonder if those readers who have used the book - student, teacher or even general reader, have ideas on what works well, what needs improving, and what they would like in addition. There is likely to be a second edition sooner rather than later, so any thoughts gratefully received!"

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails