Schoolroom volunteers

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Would you like to volunteer to help with the next Reading ancient schoolroom? No experience or prior knowledge is necessary for most roles, just enthusiasm for the ancient world: we will provide all training and equipment. The following opportunities are available:

Schoolroom teachers: assigning reading and writing exercises and going over those exercises with participants when they have been done. There will always be at least three teachers in the schoolroom at a time, but unless there are problems each will work independently. For this role you will need to wear a costume (provided by us) and remove any signs of modernity (e.g. glasses,  watches, and plastic jewelry; contact lenses are fine to wear). Approximately 8 hours of advance preparation, including a visit to the department to practice with the ancient writing materials, are necessary for this role before the event starts. People who like working with children and/or have experience of teaching would be especially good for this role.

Maths teachers: teaching participants to do addition, multiplication, and division in Roman numerals using a counting board and abacus. (This is easier than you think, and training will be provided!) The maths lessons will sometimes take place in the schoolroom (with individual pupils) and sometimes in a separate room (with larger groups); in the schoolroom the teachers will need to wear a costume (provided by us) and remove any signs of modernity (e.g. glasses, watches, and plastic jewelry; contact lenses are fine to wear). Approximately 6 hours of advance preparation, including a visit to the department to practice with the ancient equipment, are necessary for this role before the event starts. People who like maths (whether or not they are good at it) and those who like working with children and/or have experience of teaching would be especially good for this role.

Latin teachers: teaching participants a bit of Latin using ancient textbooks. The Latin lessons will sometimes take place in the schoolroom (with individual pupils) and sometimes in a separate room (with larger groups); in the schoolroom the teachers will need to wear a costume (provided by us) and remove any signs of modernity (e.g. glasses, watches, and plastic jewelry; contact lenses are fine to wear). Prior knowledge of Latin is needed (some participants will have studied it already, though most will be beginners), as are approximately 4 hours of advance preparation to plan the lessons. People who like working with children and/or have experience of teaching would be especially good for this role.

Pen makers: showing participants how to make a reed or quill pen. The demonstration will sometimes take place in the schoolroom (with individual pupils) and sometimes in a separate room (with larger groups); in the schoolroom the teachers will need to wear a costume (provided by us) and remove any signs of modernity (e.g. glasses, watches, and plastic jewelry; contact lenses are fine to wear). No prior knowledge of how to make a pen is needed, but you should be reasonably well-coordinated and comfortable using sharp knives. Approximately 2 hours of advanced preparation are needed, including a training session given on campus.

Graffiti artists: telling participants about Roman graffiti and helping them make some of their own (on a piece of paper that they will take with them when they leave). Significant prior knowledge of Latin (at least 2 years) is needed, as is the time to research Roman graffiti and plan your own workshop; this will take 4-12 hours depending on your background. Wearing a costume is optional. People who like working with children and/or have experience of teaching would be especially good for this role.

Costumers: helping participants get dressed for the schoolroom and collecting costumes from participants as they leave. People with good dress sense would be especially good for this role. No prior preparation is required, and wearing a costume yourself is optional.

Papyrus merchants: explaining and selling blank papyrus, tablet-making kits, etc. to participants who would like something to take home with them or who just want to get another look at the equipment. People with enthusiasm for and/or knowledge of ancient writing equipment would be especially good for this role, which should be more about education than about sales. No prior preparation is required, and wearing a costume is optional.

Costume and equipment care: people to wash and repair the costumes, sharpen the pens, repair the wax tablets, patch the papyri, copy more texts onto papyrus, etc. Training will be provided if needed, but if you have specific craft skills already and can think of something you’d like to contribute, please let us know!

Setup and cleanup crew: people to help set up and dismantle the schoolroom. Handyman skills would be helpful with this task but are not essential.

Reading students can count working on the schoolroom towards the RED award.

To indicate interest and/or obtain more information, contact Professor Eleanor Dickey at Reading (E.Dickey@reading.ac.uk).

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2014 assistant teachers waiting for the participants to enter

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2014 costumers putting hair ribbons in participants’ hair

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Graffiti artist’s class, 2017

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Maths teacher with the maths equipment, 2016

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2014 classroom slave, distinguished papyrologist Daniela Colomo (The classroom slave role is no longer available; it is now permanently taken by the Director.)

Sarah Wallace with the Nile windows

2014 setup crew member and Reading graduate student Sarah Wallace

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Schoolroom costumes drying on the washer’s clothesline, 2017

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Papyri drying on the papyrus repairer’s table, 2017

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Director, classroom slave, and Reading professor Eleanor Dickey

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