Schoolroom volunteers

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Would you like to volunteer to help with the Reading ancient schoolroom 2017? 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, one of them a lecturer, 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.

Roman cooks: preparing, explaining, and selling Roman food. Recipes and guidance will be provided, but basic cooking skills are needed, as is access to a kitchen. Respect for the principles of food hygiene and willingness to label food accurately with its ingredients and allergens and to take care to avoid contamination is important; a costume is optional. Some prior investment of time will be needed to prepare food before the event starts. People who enjoy making and talking about food would be especially good for this role: the food should be a catalyst for discussion about what it is and how it was made, not just something that tastes good.

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.

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.

This year some remuneration will be available for a few people who can fill multiple roles and can commit to helping for the entire two weeks (26 June is a setup day, so 26 June to 7 July, plus advance preparation as necessary for your roles). The rest of the volunteers will, we hope, find that working in the ancient schoolroom is enough fun to be its own reward. Certainly in 2014 and 2016 all the volunteers had a great time!

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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2014 classroom slave, distinguished papyrologist Daniela Colomo

Sarah Wallace with the Nile windows

2014 setup crew member and Reading graduate student Sarah Wallace

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Organizer and Reading professor Eleanor Dickey

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