Wannabe a Genealogy Teacher? Background reading.

There is something really exciting about teaching genealogy. Who knows but one of your students could be the future Helen Leary,Thomas Jones, Elizabeth Shown Mills, Brenda Dougall Merriman or Paula Stuart Warren: outstanding genealogists of today. We do not know when we enter the class room what our impact will be on the leading edge of genealogy and family history So we need to beprepared.

May I suggest that even if you are teaching classes daily or weekly now, you can benefit from reviewing Sandra Hargreaves Luebking’s chapter in Professional Genealogy entitled “Classroom Teaching”. most of the chapter is devoted to a discussion of the process of teaching as she focuses in turn on the teacher, learner,message, method, evaluation and external influences on the learning environment. Under the “method” section she looks closely at alternatiives to lecturing:case studies, delegation, demonstration, discussion, programmed instruction, role play and simulation as learning activities.

Sandra concludes, “We should be creative and daring in the classroom– preparing diligently and evaluating each use of a different method of lesson presentation. We’ll be far more effective and neither we nor our students need fear dullness from us again.”

Take the time and read the chapter. It will start you thinking. That reference again is

Sandra Hargreaves Luebking, “Classroom Teaching” in Elizabeth Shown Mills (editor), Professional Genealogy, A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers and Librarians, (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 2001) pp.552-568

Sandra suggests several other items for further study. Two of them are:

Sheila Benedict, “Teaching Genealogy” Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly, 14 (September 1999) page 121 and

Paula Stuart Warren, “The Nuts and Bolts of Genealogical Teaching and Lecturing” on pages 117-120, 122-125 of that same issue.

If you do not have these issues, go to your library and request them using interlibrary loan.

Just to see who is paying attention, I’d like to hear what you think is meant by “delegation” as mentioned in this post? All comments welcome.


3 responses to “Wannabe a Genealogy Teacher? Background reading.

  1. Ken,

    I don’t have the article (heck, I don’t have any of the ones you list above!)…but I’ll take a whack at “delegation.”

    In the context of teaching, I think it means assigning a student to investigate on their own and report back to the class. In this way, the student demonstrates their search skills and learns something about the assigned topic, and then can present it to the class. It presumes an inherent interest in the subject matter, and assumes the student can find the needed resources to perform the task.

    I’m anxious to see what others think…Randy

  2. Randy, Thats ne possibility. Here’s another, the teacher invites a specialist in to speak on a specific topic. For example a librarian explains how interlibrary loan works and how to fill out an interlibrary loan request correctly.
    Any other ideas on delegation?


  3. Adult education techniques advise against using the “teacher” “pupil” model so popular in elementary school. Delegation fits in with the idea that peer-to-peer training works well with adults. For instance, you could hand out several short research guides the LDS provides (say around 4-8pp) and have each student read one and then summarize for the class. Classes will always vary in experience level, so allow space for students to share his/her experiences. These experiences may also include areas of research interests other than yours. For example, my personal family research is mainly colonial and mid-Atlantic. Living in Chicago, most of my students have completely different areas of interest & expertise. “Delegating” a few minutes to a student to show the class some interesting finds is a win-win situation.

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