Teacher’s passion engages history students

Sphinx

When Michelle Hampson wants her students to learn without realising she lets her mummy do the talking.

Despite an undergraduate degree in modern history, the St John's Park High School teacher's passions lie buried in the tombs of ancient Egypt.

In April, after a journey akin to an Indiana Jones' movie, Ms Hampson will receive her doctorate in the field.

"Many have been curious as to why an adult would want to 'go back to school' but I think they admire me for doing something which, from their perspective, must seem quite adventurous and different."

Fascinating field work

Ms Hampson's research has taken her to Egypt where she gained access to restricted areas.

She has seen an ancient mummy in its original burial chamber and analysed parts of a tomb wall that were overlooked in the original expedition of 1913 by famous American Egyptologist George Reisner.

And she even got to complete a summer course in Egyptian archaeology at Oxford University.

"I enjoyed this part of my studies the most," she said. "The coolness and quietness of the research rooms and the smell of the old books ... I felt like a detective on the trail of some old unsolved mystery and in a way that's exactly what I was."

Her thesis centred on the detailed scenes of craftsmen at work in tomb reliefs and paintings dating back to the age of the pyramids.

Ancient tales

A side benefit of her studies, she said was having "a supply of interesting stories about my travels in Egypt and elsewhere to liven up a slow Friday afternoon".

"My Year 7 class will sidetrack me into spending all lesson talking about pyramids and mummies if I let them, but I don't mind because this is the 'hidden curriculum' at work," she said.

"I see it as an important part of my role as a history teacher to inspire their interest in the subject from an early age and I'm more than happy to be a role model for lifelong learning."

Photo: Supplied by Michelle Hampson

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