"Just a tour guide"?


Why do I enjoy my tours so much?

A little while ago somebody suggested I was "just a tour guide" and I actually found that quite depressing. Partly this was because the tone of the comment demeaned the work done by people all over the world who love sharing their local art, culture and history with others. More significantly, however, my sense of sadness came from the fact that the person who made the comment is someone I had never met and had never experienced one of my tours. He actually had no idea what I really do.
For me, my tours are about so much more than pointing at things and telling people about them. Each tour is a performance which depends completely on the relationships I build with my guests. Sometimes this includes building relationships between guests who may never have met. Doing this helps to build the sense of exploration, mystery and fun. This is where my teaching experience comes in.
Having begun my teaching career with the very smallest school children, then moving into working with teens, I realised that if I engaged those minds, any "battle" that might present itself was already a long way towards being won.

I apply exactly the same thinking to my tours. My tours are never identical and are as much about the guests as they are about me or the sites we visit. Wherever possible I encourage my guests to think about the questions archaeologists try to answer and to have a go at solving these riddles for themselves. The tours are about WHAT archaeologists do, HOW and WHY just as much as they are about looking at evidence left by our ancestors. In addition, I try to make my tours as "hands on" as possible, giving people the opportunity to touch prehistoric art and handle genuine artefacts made by hands thousands of years ago.
My tours sometimes run much longer than scheduled but that's not a problem. At the end of a tour that has gone well there's often a real buzz of excitement and enthusiasm as questions are posed and debated. On occasion my tours have even inspired young people to want to seek a future in archaeology or other areas of historical or scientific research (including forensic sciences). That, for me is the sign of a job well done and I love it!
Am I "just a tour guide"?


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