Demonstrating the methods of the historian and especially the anthropologist is a good classroom exercise. The class is given a newspaper from a foreign city. Based on this artifact and what they already know, students try and develop some generalizations about the country. It seems to work best if the students are at the discovering stage in their study of the particular country.

The paper in this case is the Irish Times; the date is Jan. 5, 1991. This was 10 days before the United Nations deadline that precipitated Desert Storm. Students understand that they are dealing with only one issue of one newspaper printed in the Republic of Ireland. There are at least two other dailies printed in Dublin. The point is that this is a single artifact of the Irish culture and that generalizations will be very difficult and few in number for amateur anthropologists.The front page has five articles besides an index. Two of the front page articles are on the gulf crisis. One is about Ireland's possible role as a nation whose constitution requires neutrality. The other gulf article is about actions of the European Economic Community. Other articles are about record bad weather, a government pay plan that will aid female civil servants, and a shooting incident in Northern Ireland. Each article contributes ideas that could become generalizations with further independent support.

Perhaps the most striking item on the first page is an advertisement that occupies about one-sixth of the space. It seems unusual for three reasons. First, we don't usually see advertisements on the front page of papers.

The second reason that the advertisement seems strange is that there doesn't seem to be very much advertising in the paper at all by U.S. standards. The advertising in general is discreet, subtle and informative. There are no full-page pictures of women in underwear to make us wonder about the excess profits in underwear sales at the malls.

What is especially strange about the advertisement on the front page is that it is a gentle sales pitch for a school, the School of Philosophy and Economic Science. It advertises a 12-week course for "those seeking an understanding of human existence and the world in which man lives." The course syllabus is printed in the advertisement.

There probably isn't enough information yet to make any generalizations, but one could certainly suspect that maybe we are being pointed in the direction of a culture with particular interests or preoccupations with education.

There is some supporting evidence. There are nine book reviews in this paper. Only one of the nine is written by a staff writer.

More than a page of the paper is about the schools of Ireland nurtured by the Christian Brothers. It quotes Eamon de Valera who in 1944 said that "Ireland owes more than it will probably ever realize to the Christian Brothers. They molded the minds of many prominent figures in the new State who went on to create another Ireland, profoundly different from the one that the Brothers had helped to invent."

Two-thirds of a page was about the Aer Lingus Young Scientists exhibition and noted that "Irish students are matching if not out-doing their European contemporaries."

An article that occupied one-third of a page previewed publishers' spring lists with a look at non-fiction titles. The article was "Spring gleaning in the bookshops." There were five pages of sports and two of business in the 32-page paper. The calculations are rough and only of one paper on one day, but the Saturday Jan. 5, 1991, artifact seemed to be about 15 percent sports, 6 percent business, 28 percent arts and education, 19 percent advertisement and 32 percent news.

This very rough data is for just one day, and papers often emphasize different things on different days. The point is that a generalization about educational coverage in this Irish newspaper and maybe about education in Ireland itself is in the making.

With the tentativeness of our generalization in mind, it would be interesting to reverse the anthropological study and invite someone in Ireland to make generalizations about the Utah culture based on just one artifact like our newspaper on Jan. 5.

Whether this is fair or not, the analysis of an artifact is a good way to teach students about what a social scientist does.

- Roger Baker is associate professor of English/education at Snow College.