By Janet Coles and Paul Armstrong
Paper presented at the 38th Annual SCUTREA Conference, University of Edinburgh (2008)
Introduction: We are interested in the ways in which adult learn through engaging in leisure pursuits that have educational outcomes. Specifically in this paper we are interested in learning history; and second, we are interested in learning about history through doing. The phrase ‘living history’ is now commonplace, and refers to – inter alia – engaging in re-enactment of history. All around the world living history is a popular pastime as history is being regularly reconstructed as a popular contemporary leisure activity. As part of a larger project investigating how people may learn about history through popular culture, this paper will report on some initial research that is seeking to examine the processes of informal learning that take place around participation in historical re-enactment. The core research focus is on the learning that takes place through entertainment. In short, we are seeking to discover the significance of informal adult learning through play, dressing up and having fun. But we are also interested to see in people’s lived experience of doing history impacts on their historical awareness and raises issues of historiography.