Anthropology is Elemental: Teaching Four-Field Anthropology in Tuscaloosa Schools
In 2011 the Anthropology Department at The University of Alabama joined a larger university lead outreach initiative at Tuscaloosa Magnet School Elementary. A collection of faculty, graduate students, and advanced undergraduates began offering a semester-long course in four-field Anthropology.
Now in our fifth year, we have expanded our curriculum and currently offer a similar course at Arcadia Elementary and the opportunity for a more specialized curriculum at Tuscaloosa Magnet Middle School. This program has facilitated the outreach and training of more than 200 elementary schoolers, 12 undergraduates, and 13 graduate students. We look to provide quality instruction to students and teach effectively through construction of active, student-centered, lessons.
Anthropology instructors expose students to the principles and methods of archaeology, linguistics, and cultural and biological anthropology. These include analyzing what garbage can tell us about culture and how we interpret and convey that meaning to others to understand cultural similarities and differences, dividing students into “clans” and having them develop their own rituals and symbol systems, exploring non-human primate modes of communicating and walking, basic genetics and how they code for some of our traits and not others (like race), and how fossil and bone remains help us trace our evolutionary history and assist in investigating contemporary mysteries.
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