Syllabus, anyone? or maybe there’s a better way…

Posted on April 23, 2010


Some years ago I had the pleasure of being a very peripheral participant in a project to produce curriculum materials for teaching archaeology in the 21st century, M.A.T.R.I.X. Lively discussions turned on what documents would help someone else teach a course that one of the participants had developed. Opinions ranged from those calling for full written lectures to those who thought a minimal syllabus and reading list would be enough.

What I learned from this experience, though, was something different: I learned to think about the material I was teaching in terms of what I still call lesson plans. These include a topic; readings; and most important, a description of activities I use to develop student understanding for each topic (which may last one class session or many). This is what I think might be most helpful to others thinking about teaching this kind of material, particularly those who might be wondering how to promote learning with the approach I take in Ancient Bodies, Ancient Lives.

So instead of a syllabus, let’s start with the main course topics. Subsequent posts will work through specific topics, giving descriptions of what I do, why I do it, and how it works in practice. The course is divided into sections,for  a total of 14 weeks of instruction:

Section one: Thinking about sex and gender: disciplinary approaches (3 weeks)

Section two: Sex and gender in the past: regional traditions (5 weeks)

Section three: Approaching sex through archaeology (4 weeks)

Section four: Putting theory into practice (2 weeks)