This was a pretty informal session but it was attended by a lot of really enthusiastic people. When I arrived in the room shortly before the start time the discussion had already started. By the time Emily Williams arrived (one issue with this session was a lot of competing interests at the same time) only 5 minutes later, we were already well into it and she had her work cut out to herd the syllabus-sharing cats.
The initial premise of the meeting was for people either teaching or interested in teaching conservation to allied professions to get together and share their ideas for teaching. This arose from interest expressed at the last annual meeting. Emily Williams, who guided the session, explained that there wasn’t a big plan for it, they just wanted to provide a space for discussion and she wanted to distribute a short questionnaire to determine interests (see end of blog for the questionnaire questions; please send your answers to the questions listed to Emily Williams)
When I came in, the discussion centered on what kind of sharing was proposed. Some participants were unwilling to post their syllabi online for various reasons, although they’d be willing to share them with interested people via email. The group seemed pretty evenly split on this topic but even without general consensus on that topic there were a lot of interesting ideas and useful resources discussed.
One suggestion (sorry, everyone, I was having a hard enough time jotting down the ideas that were coming fast and furious and didn’t always note who said what) was a list of who was teaching what, where, and whether to undergrad or grad students, so that we could see who was teaching something akin to our interests and reach out to them. Another participant was interested in adding information on class size and whether the instruction was compensated. At this point, Emily came in and let us know that AIC’s e-editor Rachael Perkins Arenstein and she had just discussed setting up a Wiki page that could host just this sort of info, so that was great. This ‘Teaching to Allied Professionals’ wiki page would be akin to the existing Exhibiting Conservation .
Several participants offered useful resources; these came up at various points in the discussion but I’m going to lump them together here:
- Chemistry in Art is the first web-based community launched by the NSF-sponsored Chemistry Collaborations, Workshops and Community of Scholars program (cCWCS) . The CiA community is primarily designed for college-level instructors to network and to collaborate; and to access, share and develop curriculum materials.
- GCI has a lot of good teaching resources. “The GCI is pleased to make available didactic resources that have been produced and used in the Institute’s courses, workshops and field training. These resources include outlines of teaching sessions, bibliographies, exercises, case studies, and technical notes that can be downloaded and used by conservation educators and students in the classroom and by professionals for informal, personal learning according to the terms described below.” GCI puts everything up under a Creative Commons License. Kathleen Dardes mentioned that she was particularly interested in getting feedback on this resource.
- NEDCC also has resources available freely.
- UCL has a very detailed online syllabus for their Conservation for Archaeologists course:
- Renee Stein and Katherine Etre at the Carlos Museum have worked with science teachers to develop a resource for high school science labs based on art conservation. Carlos.emory.edu/science-art-conservation
There was some discussion of how to write a syllabus; Emily put forward the view that we should think of a syllabus as a contract between the student and instructor. Some felt that this might lead to a voluminous syllabus and suggested adding a generic paragraph that everything is subject to change. There was general agreement that it was important to communicate fully with students to understand their expectations and to explain your expectations. List outcomes and rubrics (this was unfamiliar use of rubric for me so I turned to Wikipedia for explication: “In education terminology, scoring rubric means “a standard of performance for a defined population”.” Live and learn). The students need to understand that taking one course will not transform them into conservators. Instructors in a university setting may need to follow institutional guidelines for syllabus-writing but also may be able to get help from their Centers for Learning Excellence.
At our request Emily explicated what the relationship was between ETC (the AIC Education and Training Committee of which she’s also a member) and this syllabus sharing group. In short, the ETC is tasked with overseeing AIC’s education initiatives (mostly directed at conservator education) whereas our adhoc group was directed at conservation education for allied professionals.
At this point, we went around the room and introduced ourselves and talked about our specific interest in the topic. It was fascinating to learn how many different ‘allied professionals’ were interested in or could benefit by an academic introduction to conservation basics: art students (who could learn how to make their artworks more permanent or definitely ephemeral); museum studies programs; collections managers; archaeology and anthropology students; art history students; library scientists and archivists; programs for chemistry, materials science or engineering students, and others I’ve probably left out. One participant was especially interested in identifying and accessing online resources that could be used by students in the Developing World.
Emily polled the room to see if there was interest in a session for the next Annual Meeting on how to teach. If you weren’t there but would are interested, please fill out the extremely short survey at the end of this post.
I have not yet taught a full semester University level course, just classes in other courses and workshops in host countries. But I hope to do so in the next year or so as our Museum starts an exciting new initiative for teaching archaeological science to undergraduates. Having long felt that most American archaeology and anthropology students need to understand more about conservation, I’m pretty passionate about this topic and it was great to be in a room with others who share that passion.
SURVEY DISTRIBUTED AT SESSION:
We are hoping to organize a formal workshop on teaching for the Miami AIC meeting. To help us plan this and future events please answer the following questions and return this form to either Emily Williams (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Suzanne Davis (email@example.com)
- What resources would you most like to see AIC develop to aid you in your teaching. These resources might include items for the soon to launch “Teaching to Allied Professionals” wiki page, continued education courses for conservators engaged in courses, course materials for use in the classroom or other items. Please write down anything you think might be useful.
- Is there a particular challenge that you feel you or other conservators face in teaching Allied Professionals that you particularly wish to see addressed through workshops or the wiki page.
- Have you developed course materials or other teaching aids that you are willing to share with other conservators? If so, what types and how may we contact you?