In the recreated 1850s classroom where I teach, I immerse modern students in an experience of what school and life may have been like for children on the gold fields. We aim for historical accuracy as much as possible, but also make accommodations to meet the contemporary needs of children, as well as modern legal and moral rights.
Gender roles and discrimination in education are something that very quickly become apparent as children step into the role of 1850s children. They are divided by their gender for clothing, lessons and rules. In my school, the girls are not allowed to run or squat on the ground to play marbles. They must learn needlework while the boys learn technical/mathematical drawing. They are also excluded from discussions about jobs for their future, due to its irrelevance to their expected future roles as wives and mothers.
Interestingly, not being able to run seems to elicit the loudest protests and mutterings of disbelief.
Since the start of 2014 I have been working as a teacher in the Sovereign Hill Costumed School, a shift from my previous role as an Education Officer. Since April 2014, marking a year now, I have been full time as the Ma’am in St. Peter’s Denominational School. This role sees me running a 2-day costumed role-play experience for Year 5/6 students twice a week, with one day spent on administration/organisation.
It’s been an easy move in some ways, a big shift in others. Most notably I have moved from focussing on innovation and social media to working, predominately, with technology of the Victorian Era, such as the slate board (which is eerily similar in shape and size to the iPad!). I love living the past. I was also fortunate that my previous role had equipped me well in terms of background knowledge, thus enabling the role-play to come more easily. But I still continuously find gaps in my knowledge that makes it hard to be respond to some situations authentically – such as knowledge of country names, boundaries and rulers as they were in 1854. It is motivating to keep learning contextual information about the era.
Museums Australia Conference Presentation by Stephanie Rosestone
On Thursday 27th September I delivered a presentation called Learners, Digital Resources and Museums. The presentation was a culmination of both research and practical experience over the past year as part of my work at Sovereign Hill. My presentation discussed why cultural organisations should engage with teachers and students using digital resources, explored some digital resources developed by museums, and presented some practical ideas for getting started.
Mobile devices have great potential to transform the excursion experience of students, making it more relevant, personalised and richly informative. Traditional museums are sometimes limited to panels and labels for providing information and context to their collections, while outdoor museums, like Sovereign Hill, are sometimes limited by the absence of explicit information on panels and labels. While museums are engaging in innovative and enriching interpretation techniques on top of this, mobile devices offer a broader, and simultaneously more explicit, interpretation experience.
Social Media and Traditional Media can play well together
The greatest power of a social media network is the conversation. Traditional media, on the other hand still holds sway over many people’s desire for reliable news. As an advocate for the use of social media for networking, professional branding, influence and life-long learning opportunities I am often struck by the lack of trust many organisations still place in it as a tool. I admire the works of young professionals who advocate change and empowerment, such as Colleen Dilenscneider.
Despite my strong belief in the value of social media tools I do not ignore the great impact traditional media has on public opinion and it’s powerful reach. A couple of weeks ago I learnt a good lesson in how social media and traditional media can play well together. It was also a good reaffirmation of the value I’ve placed in building professional networks online.