In touch with the Stone Age

16th May 2003 at 01:00
To rediscover the zest of heuristic learning, so beloved of my PGCE tutors 25 years ago, I invited flintknapper Alan Course into my classroom. I do this project with my A-level archaeology group, but it could be done with students of any age. Simply looking at drawings and artefacts doesn't get students into the mind of the ancient flintknapper in the same way as sharing in his act of creation, literally "feeling the vibes" in this case.

The best way to get hold of an expert in prehistoric flint work is to contact the Council for British Archaeology, or your local university might help you.

As well as pieces of his own, Alan Course brought along flint cobbles and hammers and also wood, bone, sinews, wax and resin, which were used by ancient knappers. The students wore safety goggles and gloves and started by imagining themselves back in the Stone Age. We made flint knives and spears, following methods known from the study of tools from ancient sites.

All the students created passable pieces but, more importantly, had participated in an activity with the touch, smell and sounds that make for an unforgettable experience.

Neil Fleming, archaeology teacher, Christ's Hospital, Horsham, Sussex

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