This morning I read about some motivational speaker who used rubber chickens in his presentations! I tried to imagine how I could work a rubber chicken into my lecture this coming Friday in Vernon, British Coumbia. My topic is “Back to Basics: The Genealogy Research Process” — absolutely nothing to do with poultry but the idea is interesting.How can you use props in teaching?
There are actually people out there in the world of business seminars who use finger puppets to teach adults. Sounds like fun. The Right Hand finger puppet teaches, and the left hand finger puppet asks the dumb questions that need to be asked.
What other props can you use. As a genealogy librarian I find myself using books as props. I pick light ones so its easier on my wrists. In several lectures I seem to need to show people Elizabeth Shown Mills book, Evidence, Analysis & Citation (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1997) and recently I started using The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual (Ancestry, 2001) But never a rubber chicken. I am considering printing up a bunch of buttons saying “I’m Smarter than Ken” to hand out to those people who teach me something new at my lectures and seminars.
I suspect that real educational experts will detect two or three different purposes for props in teaching. Maybe their list would look like this.
1. To demonstrate visually what is being described in words
2. To break up the monotony of the lecture format
3. To add humor to reinforce a teaching point.
4. To amuse and entertain
5. To focus learners on an concrete, rather than abstract concept
6. To represent an abstract concept in a concrete way ( slightly different than 5)
Let me explain what I mean in 5 and 6.
In point 5 I see a teacher bringing up the web page for a library catalog and demonstrating how to search for books on a specific topic.
In point 6 I see a lecturer who has referred to an oral history interview previously in a discussion, holding up an audio tape for the audience to see and referring to it as the interview. It becomes a concrete manifestion of the abstract idea of an interview.
In teaching we talk about object lessons. During my years in New Zealand back in the late 60sI worked for a short time with young man from California. Raymond Cook used object lessons all the time in training and encouraging people he worked with. His lessons were always like point 6, but fun. I recall one where he was teaching us about focus and persistance and gave each of the five of us one of those hand help games where you tilt the thing and roll a tiny ball around until it gets in the correct hole, then proceed with the next, all the while keeping the first still in its hole. Drove me nuts. It takes patience. Ray was teaching us.
Can these things be applied to teaching/ lecturing in genealogy. Sure. And I love to hear the use of props — even a rubber chicken– you have observed in genealogy classes and lectures.