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Bouncing on Stonehenge: Fun Learning Tool?

Bouncing on Stonehenge: Fun Learning Tool?

Teaching children about ancient history is a monumental task. Making the Shang Dynasty, the Vikings and the death cults of Egypt at all engaging takes some real dressing up and some inspired creativity. And all of these aforementioned subjects have an innate theatricality to them on account of their respective power struggles and body counts. Try making Stonehenge, those inanimate 5000-year-old stones just sitting in the English countryside, appealing to children, or anyone for that matter.

The fact that Stonehenge has captured the imagination of historians and archeologists for centuries, as the history of the place is steeped in mystical lore and conjecture, hasn’t necessarily made it an easy sell for curious children. Even with the help of Spinal Tap, who sang a loving ode to this circular collection of rocks, didn’t do much to make Stonehenge any more than something to laud, and then laugh about.

Now comes British artist Jeremy Deller (former award winner of the coveted Turner Prize) with his bouncy scale model of Stonehenge, which is a lot more fun than reading about ancient history of the place. Deller’s Bouncy Stonehenge was recently unveiled at a park in Glasgow, Scotland, and will go on tour throughout the U.K. this summer (apologies to everyone else, but you have to go to the U.K. to see the real, and Bouncy Stonehenge). To be clear Deller is an artist, and not an educator, and his intention was to construct a conceptual piece of art and not necessarily educate the masses on pre-history. But Deller does claim that he constructed this touring ode to Stonehenge so Brits could “interact with it and enjoy British culture and heritage.” The interaction is key, as the true Stonehenge is now cordoned off and inaccessible for most people, so a bouncy simulacrum is the next best thing (see video here).

Is there any merit to teaching through this sort of interaction, or is it just good fun and whimsy? Can you imagine any other bits of history that would benefit from such a treatment? Maybe a bouncy Boston Tea Party with a water park component? Ideas of whimsy are encouraged.

Read more: Blogs, Children, Family, Fun, Parenting at the Crossroads, , , , , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

20 comments

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1:02PM PDT on May 11, 2012

Wow... that's a lot of disparraging of Stonehenge in an article about a replica of Stonehenge. Having just gone there, it was a lot more awe-inspiring than you make it sound.

3:19AM PDT on May 2, 2012

Thanks.

7:01AM PDT on May 1, 2012

I don't get the art of it. Why can't children become fascinated with the real Stonehenge? This is the only method to "unhinge" the straight-laced Olympics? Hmm...

2:16PM PDT on Apr 30, 2012

i would rather save up the money and take my kids to see it personally. i also want to expose them to as many different types of people and cultures as i can

5:29AM PDT on Apr 30, 2012

Nothing like the real thing!

4:40AM PDT on Apr 30, 2012

Does this site have mystical powers??

GloSnifer.

12:18AM PDT on Apr 30, 2012

best to go and SEE these places and feel the magic of them. If you can't, there are plenty of local history places which you can give kids a taste with and then get them to imagine the far away ones. Best places are those you can actually interact with (of course with proper respect). A lot of places like forts, castles and old houses these days have dress-up options for kids.

7:44PM PDT on Apr 29, 2012

Doesn't sound especially educational except to give a concept of scale, but certainly sounds like fun.

5:07PM PDT on Apr 29, 2012

Id love to go there myself.

2:57PM PDT on Apr 29, 2012

Interesting idea, but depending on the age of the children, I doubt they will gain anything educational from the experience.

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