A key element of any publicly funded countryside or heritage project these days will be to involve and engage the public.
The Quantock Hills AONB have received funding for a weekend of archaeological activity to find out more about Cothelstone Hill’s fascinating past. Visitors are invited to come and talk to archaeologists from the South West Heritage Trust and students from Bridgwater College on the dig. There will be heritage tours, wildlife walks and wild skills workshops.
The AONB project manager wanted to ensure the student volunteers to have training in public engagement and interpretation techniques.
This type of training is suitable for all countryside and heritage staff and volunteers who need to explain the significance of an area to the public or visiting groups.
The agenda for the session was:
- Learning vs. Recreational learning. What’s the difference?
- The take-home message; Thematic Learning
- Provoke: You have a couple of seconds to grab my attention, be provocative
- Relate: How are you going to relate your subject to my life?
- Reveal: Interpretation is revelation based on information
- Engagement Stages: pre-visit, arrival, during and post
- Interpretation in practice
Each stage of the session was a balance between theory in the classroom then practical group work outside.
By the end of the training each volunteer could deliver a short talk interpreting a randomly selected item. They learned how to provoke, relate and reveal to explain the significance of the item.
The principles of recreational learning are:
- To learn something they normally wouldn’t
- To make the unfamiliar familiar
- To satisfy curiosity
- To be moved, touched or inspired by the theme
- To have a pleasurable experience
Their learning was built on a foundation of theory and practical experience. And a dose of fun!
Gold star went to the talk that started, ‘In my hand I have the secret of flight…’
If you would like to learn more about the Quantock Hills AONB Service visit their website http://www.quantockhills.com