York lecturer, Aimée Little, has been nominated for tonight’s Times Higher Education Most Innovative Teacher of the Year Award for her work in the Archaeology department.
The lecturer in prehistory, material culture, and experimental archaeology at the University of York is the director of the York Experimental Archaeological Research (YEAR) centre, an outdoor space where students and researchers can replicate ancient technologies and crafts.
Students have praised Little for this outdoor environment, saying that it has improved their well-being, allowing them a break from online learning and digital life.
Little says she feels “both honoured and delighted” to have her teaching recognised at a national level.
She also praised teaching staff at York, who she says have all had to be innovative since the start of the pandemic: “Everyone of us should be shortlisted for this award!”
When asked about future plans for the YEAR centre, Little says they are hoping to find funding to build two outdoor teaching huts: “This is so that we can still have classes around campfires but protected from the weather”.
“We now have a MSc and MA Material Culture & Experimental Archaeology Programme, and a new first year module called Artefacts & Materials run by Dr Andy Needham, which means that 100+ students get to spend several seminar sessions crafting outdoors, learning about the diverse materials (e.g. bone, plant, metal, wood etc) worked during historical and prehistoric periods.”
As for the benefit that outdoor learning has on students’ health and wellbeing, Little proclaims that ‘outdoor teaching, often around a campfire, has played a very positive role in the learning experience of York Archaeology students’.
Little’s down-to-earth approach to teaching Archaeology to students has clearly shone bright enough to catch the eye of THE awards and will continue to shine as life evolves post-COVID.
As Little believes, “there is something essential about being outdoors and crafting which reminds you of what it is to be human”.