Homework for Genealogy Students

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My grandfather, pictured above arriving home from his bakery in Vancouver BC, was not, apparently as obsessed with making his kids do homework assignments from school, as folks are today. Articles in recent Time  and Macleans magazines discuss reactions to a recent claim that those three pages of math problems, and regurgitated answers to reading comprehension questions are probably a waste of time. But how does this impact on teaching genealogy? What sort of assignments are valid?

The problem with making assignments to students is that someone has to mark them, grade them or evaluate them. Therefore assignments should not be practice like those math questions. Practise exercises are the product of behavioralist thinking– stimulus and response and Pavlov’s dogs( Zeus and Apollo?). But we have abandoned BF skinners learning theories. But not the practice exercises. There are things we  can assign that promote cognitive thinking better.The task of reading, transcribing and abstracting a will or deed is a learning activity, not a practice activity. The task of working from a model to create a similar personalized work is a learning , not a practice activity. For example, you create a completed family unit chart, and ask students to use it as a model to create one for their own family unit. Do not waste time explaining all the gimmicks, and procedures. Let your model show them. Let your student discover them. That sort of an exercise is worth marking, and sets up adults to learn in the marking. This is a simple example. Can you suggest other cognitive homework assignments– not reinforcement exercises, but learning experiences?

If you want repetitive homework, grandpa Aitken  would have you cut stove wood or wash bread pans.

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