Our attempts to provide children with introductory lessons in archaeology and, more generally, our interest in promoting the educational and social role of antiquities date back to the beginning of our research at Aiani and in the Kozani prefecture. These efforts to form a structured dialogue with our cultural heritage were strengthened by the compilation of a number of special Educational Programmes on a wide variety of topics, of which there are already 15 in existence. An attempt has been made to approach the historical past through the finds of archaeological research in a way that both children and older people without specialist knowledge will find entertaining and easy to understand. The dialogue with our cultural heritage involves people of all ages and particularly children, for ‘what children learn when they are young is what they will remember for the rest of their lives’.
The journey back into history and the civilisations of the past has the following aims:
• To encourage children to become actively involved through collective participation in tasks with a common aim, without encouraging a negative form of competition;
• To familiarise children with the character of archaeological sites and museums and to help them acquire related interests and develop into active visitors;
• To teach children how to make good use of their free time and to strive for quality in their everyday lives;
• To develop environmental awareness and to create a link between the natural and the cultural environments;
• To foster critical thought and powers of observation;
• To eradicate low self-esteem, to abolish the mania for foreign things and to develop a love for the special qualities of our own nation and people;
• To raise children’s awareness and recognition of the importance of antiquities and the need to protect our cultural heritage;
• To promote the message that the historical past has a right to exist in the future through the care and preservation of archaeological sites, and not their destruction;
• To show the correct way of developing our cultural heritage for tourist purposes by respecting our cultural assets.
Success will depend on fulfilling the following conditions:
• Adapting the Educational Programme to the children’s immediate natural and social environment: their home town or village and everyday life there;
• Ensuring the continuity of the Educational Programme by making sure it is repeated and developed by teachers and pupils in activities both in school and at archaeological sites;
• Ensuring that the archaeologist, teacher and pupils are all actively involved in each Programme and that there is close collaboration between them in order to achieve better and more lasting results.
The design and implementation of the Educational Programmes led us to create and publish a range of information materials/teaching aids (leaflets, booklets and posters). The aids above correspond with thematic units or Educational Programmes on the same topics, which are supplemented by information panels, slides, CDs, videos, cards, copies of ancient artefacts and a range of photocopied materials etc. Needless to say, use is also made of relevant local bibliographies and other educational material on the ancient world that can provide drawings, games, models etc.