Wednesday, August 16, 2017

 Have you ever been dragged along to a heritage site, expecting to be bored to death but instead were fascinated?  Or conversely, perhaps you dragged someone along expecting to be enraptured but instead kept checking your watch?

A good interpreter makes all the difference!

The mission of FPAN is "to promote and facilitate the conservation, study and public understanding of Florida's archaeological heritage".    So, in a nutshell, our job is attempting to get people to care about Florida's thousands of archaeological sites, especially those located in their own backyards (theoretically speaking, but perhaps at times literally!)

National Association of Interpretation (NAI) guides us in how to get this message across.  NAI is a non-profit professional organization dedicated to advancing the profession of heritage interpretation in the United States, Canada, and thirty other nations.  All FPAN staff have gone through NAI training and are Certified Interpretive Guides.

 Ultimately, we don't want to just provide information, but aim to engage our audience and advance them along the continuum from "Dragged Along" closer to "Stewardship."

Literally torn from NAI's Certified Interpretive Guide Training Workbook

Freeman Tilden was the first person to formalize the principles of effective interpretation in his book "Interpreting our Heritage" (1957).

Tilden's book is basically the interpreter's bible.  In it, he breaks down interpretation into six principles:

Interpretation should be organized, thematic, enjoyable and relevant.  Of course this is easier said than done!  We try to specifically target the program to the group's age or interest, but sometimes we have no idea who is going to show up.  (This summer I had a library program expecting 7 kids but instead had 50!)  So, the name of the game is to be prepared but also to be flexible. 

If you've made it this far in the blog, you most likely are already aware of the educational  opportunities on our FPAN website and that you can become a heritage steward through our HMS (Heritage Monitoring Scouts) Program.

Now, if you have three minute to spare, watch "Kevin" attempt to hit Tilden's six principles of interpretation but miss the mark on a few of them (for your viewing enjoyment, just click on the link below the picture)....

Text by FPAN Staff: Robbie Boggs

Images in order of appearance:,, NAI Training Workbook,,, AZ Quotes, Shifting1baselines

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