The department has received a grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council to fund Nadin Marsovszki to work for a year expanding the Reading Ancient Schoolroom. The ancient schoolroom (www.readingancientschoolroom.com) is a re-enactment of a school from Roman Egypt in AD 301; Reading students and volunteers from a wide area teach local schoolchildren some of the literacy, mathematical, and linguistic skills that ancient children would have learned at school, using the original technologies (wax tablets, papyrus rolls, reed pens, inkwells, counting boards) and authentic exercises, while dressed as Romans, in a room with views of the Nile.
For the past eight years the ancient schoolroom has been a rare event, normally held on campus just a few days each year. Although there is often demand for more of it (both children and volunteers not only learn a lot but also find it great fun), expansion has not really been practical because of the time constraints of its director, Professor Eleanor Dickey. Eleanor did much of the research underpinning the ancient schoolroom and originally started the event as a way to share that research with the public, but the pressures of her ongoing research and teaching limit the time she can spend on this activity. There is also a limit to the amount of time for which Edith Morley G40 can be taken away from the undergraduate students whose study space it normally is.
These restrictions will be lifted by the AHRC award, which will allow Nadin to take over running the schoolroom and bring it to schools instead of expecting them to travel to the university campus. Nadin is the ideal person to undertake this role and is a Reading Classics success story. A Hungarian by birth, she arrived at Reading in 2016 to start an undergraduate degree in Museum and Classical Studies. In her first term she took the ‘Texts, Readers and Writers’ module and met Eleanor, who immediately spotted her potential. Although Nadin started her course with limited English that initially prevented her from doing really well academically, she was obviously enthusiastic, hard-working and intelligent. With support and mentoring from various members of the department (not only Eleanor but also Amy Smith and Peter Kruschwitz), she rapidly blossomed into an academic star, eventually gaining a Distinction in the MA in Classics. She started teaching in the ancient schoolroom in 2017 and has continued to be involved ever since, as literature teacher, pottery teacher, maths teacher, and most recently Latin teacher.
Nadin’s strengths extend outside the university: while doing her MA she worked as a teacher at a school specialising in children with special educational needs. The teaching experience she gained in this role will be of great use to her in running the ancient schoolroom. But perhaps even more important is the passion she acquired for improving the experience and attainment that autistic children have in school, which led her to focus her MA dissertation on the potential usefulness of ancient educational techniques for autistic pupils today. So in addition to expanding the ancient schoolroom as a resource for all children, Nadin will be using the findings of her dissertation to produce adapted versions of it for autistic pupils.