As 2017 comes to an end I can’t help but reflect on the timely relaunch of the Teaching Anthropology Journal. The majority of students in my Introduction to Biological Anthropology and Archaeology course (N = 800 students) are taking the course as a breadth requirement for other degrees. However, this course is an opportunity to impart on them the importance of gaining an anthropological perspective of the world. Thinking anthropologically enables them to look beyond the microcosm of their lives to see themselves as part of a global species and even part of the larger world of primates. They learn to appreciate their long evolutionary history and see how all the garbage that they produce is part of a material culture that reflects human behavior. In doing so I hope to expand and empower them in their contribution to the global environment. Learning to see the world as an anthropologist may play a part in the future solutions to the global strife. The field of Anthropology has a renewed relevance in these uncertain times, and developing a new generation of anthropological thinkers in a diversity of fields can only bring clarity to the chaos.
The blog contributions this year have addressed a number of issues around the larger question of how to encourage anthropological thinkers in these times of global uncertainty. The range of the discourse has been far-reaching; from introducing anthropology as a relevant field of study and engaging students on an introductory level, to examining the relationship between the instructor and the audience and seeing how technology can broaden the scope of anthropological teaching across many contexts.
Pedagogical teaching methods have an easy application in the field of anthropology where active learning (i.e. “learning by doing”) seems intuitive. Weekly practical sessions in the introductory course gives students an opportunity to work with artifacts and engage in anthropological methods. Online discussion boards and blogs allow students to write critical reflections and collaborate on projects in a cost-effective manner.
The goal of the Teaching Anthropology Blog is to create a discussion around the challenges and pedagogical solutions to teaching in all sub-disciplines of anthropology. It is an arena for contributors to reflect on their teaching methods – what is working and what is not. What are the issues facing Anthropology Instructors? Let us make a global connection amongst anthropological educators to improve the anthropological discourse in our students. Please consider making a contribution to this important dialogue in the coming year. I am excited to see how the discussion progresses in 2018.
Lecturer, Department of Anthropology
University of Toronto Mississauga