Monthly Archives: January 2006

Are Genealogical Educators Underpaid?

Ken Aitken profile

Good question? When a genealogical researcher charges you $50 per hour and solves a problem you cannot because she is in Oregon and you are in Nova Scotia a continent away from that court house or archive, its a good investment. But do we think the love of genealogy is sufficient pay for the man or woman who teaches you the finer points of genealogical research sources and methods? How much would you pay for ten one-hour classes ? What do you think? What factors impact on your decision?


Teaching Standards for Lecturers

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In the BCG Genealogical Standards Manual there is a neat chapter entitled “Teaching Standards” (pages 21-25) which I really like. It packs a lot in a few words. Here’s some of the concepts for lecturers Continue reading

More Books for Teachers of Genealogy

My son-in-law, recently retired professional wrestler Adam Firestorm comes from an interesting family. His mother is an actress and journalist, and his father an actor, playwright, author and journalist. Wrestling is just another form of acting he claims, without the stunt doubles. Is teaching another performance art? Continue reading

Distinguished Chairs of Learning

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Thinking about the Bests Seats in the House led me down another tangent of seating arrangements and learning. How does the room arrangement impact on the class or the lecture? Continue reading

The Best Seats in the House


Somewhere in my wanderings between the ancient volcanoes of Rarotonga, the desert of Saudi Arabia, the hallowed halls of the University of British Columbia and the highways of Montana I read something intriguing about the best places to sit in a class or lecture. Apparently it isn't at the back of the room. Which reminds me of the story of the preacher who called on one of his congregation sitting at the back of the sanctuary, to come up and participate. When he asked why he was picked, the preacher told him it was because he needed to be closer to God. This puzzled the fellow, until the preacher explained, "the closer to the door, the closer to the devil"

What I learned along the way from Rarotonga to here was that there is a semi-circle of learning in any classroom or lecture hall.

Stand in the front, in the middle and look at the audience. Look down about five rows, then imagine a semi-circle that takes in the entire front row, but less of each of the next rows .

Those are the people most likely to learn the most from the learning experience in a lecture. So if your a student, get the front row. On the Tonight Show, who gets to glad hand with Jay? The up front people. I am not sure what they learn from Leno, though.

Remember back in school all those keeners who sat on the front row in class? Did the seat make them smarter? Or do the bright people just gravitate to the front? What do you think? How would this impact on how you organize seating in a class or lecture? Your comments are welcome.

Teaching in Print

Teaching in Print! What a concept! No students with colds, no drafty classrooms. Have you ever taken a lesson on how to do something and prepared it as an article for a genealogy periodical? You could submit these for publication in any local society publication just for the free publicity you get. Or you could submit it to one of the news stand genealogy magazines fort consideration, and a little money if they publish it. Who looks for short articles? Continue reading

Topics for Lectures and Lessons 1.

When my cousin Des took over as editor of our family history journal 12 years ago it was a major shock to his system. You see, we took him to the deep end, and simply threw him in! Continue reading

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 be Continue reading

Using Case Studies in a Roundtable Discussion

Almost every issue of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly contains a long detailed case study that illustrates some general principle of effective research with a particular problem a researcher has solved. Let me give you an example: T.Mark James, “Abraham Ott of Orangeburg, South Carolina: Direct and Indirect Evidence”, NGSQ 93:2 (June 2005) pages 85-93. How could you use a 9 page case study in your work as a genealogy educator?

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Mentoring as a teaching activity

Ken front1.jpgAre you a mentor? Are you nurturing a protege, a rising star in the genealogy experience? You could be. In the mentoring process there is one mentor, and one protege ( somtimes call mentee, candidate, apprentice, aspirant, counsellee, trainee or student in the literature). Some things a mentor might do in such a relationship include: Continue reading