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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Taking on the next generation

Today I had a new experience: talking to a group of middle school kids about what I do with genealogy and blogging.  I actually had a bit of nerves going into it.  To be honest, I studied to be a secondary science teacher and took classes on the psychology of this age group.  I remember those lessons and that this can be a difficult age group.  Then there is the fact that I have friends who have taught this age group, my dad taught middle school many years ago, and of course I ran through my head every evil thing they said had ever happened to them.  On top of it I was having flash backs to me as a 6/7/8th grader and I wasn't feeling any better. Yes, I could be trouble at those ages, no one tell my kids.

You know what, even with all my nerves, it was wonderful.  No one threw anything at me and I wasn't mocked at all!  In all seriousness I was so happy they were engaged and listened to what I had to say.  Their questions were great and the kids showed a real enthusiasm to know more about what I told them.  I couldn't have been more pleased at the way the classes went.

It was wonderful to see several budding genealogists in my midst.  There were a couple of 8th graders who were very interested in how to do genealogy.  Many of them knew a lot about their family already from listening to stories that their parents and grandparents had told them.  It was heartwarming to know that there are families out there who are still passing down their stories to the next generations.

I did have to, gently, inform a couple of girls that they still needed to prove what they had been told.  You all know what I am talking about: family stories that may have a seed of the truth but have been built upon over the years.  I compared it to the telephone game (and had to explain to some of them what that game was).  The first generation or two have it right, but the next generations could add, delete, or alter facts as the years go on.  I am not sure they bought it, but I gave them advice on how they can research the stories and prove them true, or not.

For my first foray into speaking on a genealogy topic I couldn't have asked for an easier forum.  If I am offered an opportunity to do this again I will say yes!  I hope you all also have the opportunity to speak to a group of kids about your passion as well.  Passionate speakers are contagious…and we need to start working on the next generations who will take our places.

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