Years ago a professor of mine told me about creating a course for a group of English language teachers in Italy on a shoe string. It was simple, but creative. There were about a dozen in the group and they met monthly. Sounds like a small genealogy society, doesn’t it. They had one copy of a good book and built the course around the book. Thats sort of backward, but it worked. Here’s what it might look like for a genealogy class.
At hand on my desk is a very nice genealogy book, Genealogy 101: How to trace your family history and heritage, by Barbara Renick, published by the National Genealogical Society in 2003.
These are the chapters.
- Why chase dead ancestors?
- Starting Backwards
- How to find your ancestors (and not someone else’s)
- Some assemby required
- Building blocks of family trees
- Document the drama
- More tools for taming family trees
- Boot camp and beyond
- Jumpstart your genealogy
- Combinig for clues
- Tallying the score
- Publish or perish the thought
- Overcoming Culture Shock
- Guns for hire: working with professionals
- Tracing your family tree in the 21st century
Back in Italy the itailan school teachers divided up the chapters of their book. I cannot recall how. But suppose they worked in teams of two and did two lessons per team.
One team member would present a review of the chapter and her partner would prepare the handouts, and tell about his experiences with the concept. Then they open it up for discussion with a couple of open-ended questions of some kind ( e.g. “Why is it important to verify everything you find in a heritage book? )
Some chapters may not be suitable for lessons. Barbara’s first chapter might be set aside for example. We are not bound to cover everything. Barbara’s book is a basic beginners text I happen to like. Take a look at it, read some of the chapters and think about the concept. You might pick something more specialized like E. Wade Hone’s Land & Property Research in the United States ( Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1997) or more regional.
If you are in a small group, and you need to bring in new, fresh insights into chasing dead ancestors, go find a book on the topic and work together like those Italian elementary school teachers I heard about. I know this is simplistic– but it can work! It did in North Battleford 23 years ago.
Do you think they had a pot-luck supper before the class?
Your comments are welcome as always