Friday, April 22, 2011

The Thrill of Teaching Historical Research and Genealogy to Youth

I would like to thank all those who gave me tips about teaching genealogy to young people. I talked to numerous people I know, both genealogists, educators and/or parents, and also asked for tips on Facebook, Twitter, and Afrigeneas, and my Find Your Folks blog.

I am excited to announce that after months of planning, I have finally begun conducting youth genealogy classes and workshops. Entering into this realm has not been as quick as I anticipated, but we all know that “good things come to those who wait.”

Opportunity #1
Eight Week Program in Partnership With a Local City Agency. I have partnered with a local city agency and am working with two persons from this organization in a program in which the three of us designed called Back in the Day - Faith-Based Institution Historical Research Program. Both of these individuals have history degrees, but their full-time positions are working with youth or managing youth related programs rather than something in the field of history.

We decided to focus on collecting and documenting church history in our city because we believed that religious institutions were a great place to start in teaching young people how to do historical and family research. The community in which we are teaching and researching is predominately African American and since historically major movements such as the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s have been ushered in through religious institutions, we felt that it was fitting to begin our youth research project through these institutions. We began planning the program in late September and sent out invitations to older churches in our community in October to participate in this program.

Response was slow, but two churches eventually committed to participate in our pilot program along with six young people from their congregations who are ages 13-16. Each church has an adult mentor from their congregation who also attends the sessions with their youth. We started the program two weeks ago with an interest meeting and began the first week of the eight week program on last week. Both the adult mentors and the young people seem to be getting a lot out the program and I am energized by their enthusiasm each night I teach. My two partners in this endeavor will also be teaching the youth during designated weeks in this eight week program so that will be a relief for me during those weeks, and I Iook forward to just just sitting, observing, and enjoying these sessions.

At the end of the eight weeks, the youth are expected to 1) write a report summarizing their research findings; and 2) prepare some type of creative project/activity such as a skit, poster board display, PowerPoint presentation, etc. which will be showcased in a program for their families, friends, church members, and others.

Opportunity #2
My Family History: Link to the Past, Bridge to the Future. This will be a three hour workshop which I am scheduled to conduct at a local historical and cultural center in May. The goal of this workshop is to introduce young people to methods to get started in tracing their family history in hopes that they may begin the discovery process to find a link to their past and a bridge to their future.

Now it’s SHOWTIME after all these months of waiting. I’m glad that I thought to buy school supplies such as paper, pencils, pens, pencil boxes and other supplies during the back-to-school sale last year. All of these things are coming in handy now.

I'm looking forward to many more opportunities to share my genealogy and historical research knowledge with young people. I hope that other genealogists and family researchers who have not done so already, will also find opportunities to share their knowledge with the young people of their communities.


Nicka said...

Yay! So excited to see this come to fruition. The program I am working with has been going on for about 10 weeks now at 3 sites. Look forward to seeing what you learn and will share :)

Jennifer said...

What a wonderful idea! I've been thinking about teaching some basics to my daughter's Girl Scout troop or maybe our homeschooling co-op. I just want young people to get excited about their ancestry. :)

Professor Dru said...

Jennifer, I encourage you to pursue either of these youth teaching opportunities if not both. This is so rewarding and I come home excited each night I teach.