Archaeology can make a very real contribution to learning in the classroom.
In history it provides an excellent context for practising the skills of historical enquiry. Through handling and examining artefacts pupils can learn to consider evidence critically; asking questions, testing assumptions and drawing their own conclusions. Archaeology can also add value and interest to local history studies.
Archaeology can enhance learning in other areas of the curriculum too. The skills of scientific enquiry are closely related to those of history; for example using information drawn from observation and measurement, asking questions and deciding on the best ways to find out the answers, and evaluating evidence.
Literacy can benefit too. A mysterious object can provide the stimulus for children to want to do their own research in books and on the internet. Identifying and cataloguing objects can give a good reason for writing reports, making notes, presenting a point of view, practising impersonal writing and developing an argument logically. Most important of all, perhaps, the wonder of holding something that was used by a real person long ago can stimulate excellent creative writing.
In mathematics recording the position of artifacts or features on a site gives a relevant context for practising the use of plans, co-ordinates and scale, while processing finds gives opportunities for using data handling tools.
Using maps and plans contributes to learning in geography as well, while the study of an area from the earliest times helps in the study of settlement patterns.
Archaeology can help in citizenship too. Thinking about how and why we might want to search out and protect our shared past encourages a sense of roots and responsibility while learning about the beliefs and spiritual life of other societies can help children respect the faiths and principles of others.
Archaeology is a cross-curricula subject which can do as much to enhance learning as it can to excite curiosity and interest.