Thursday, September 4, 2014

Do Young Folks Have Enough Time for Genealogy Research?

Over the years, I've worked with youth hoping to instill of love of the ancestors inmother_daughter their hearts.  Few of them viewed genealogical research as one of the best detective 'games' in existence.  No it doesn't have the flashes, fireworks and sizzle of an electronic game, but the brain exercise exceeds digital games significantly.

Initially, finding the names of our farmer ancestors is boring but when we discover that they were on the front lines in the Revolutionary War, bore 10 children in a one-room home on the frontier and escaped raids multiple times, changes our perception about them.   They could have kicked our tails before breakfast and would have forgotten about it by noon.  They weren't joy stick jockeys.  They were 'real men' and 'heroic women'.

Once young folks tumble to the excitement of such discoveries, the repeat performances of the game on the display screen in the family room become boring.  

Real life ancestral heroes are exciting.  Digital heroes become boring.  

Of course, young folks today can't escape the digital world.  It is an integral part of their reality.   However, we know that it isn't as satisfying or lasting as physical reality.

If your family is like ours, even their education has moved online.   Will they become bored with it too?   They don't have to.   In our family, the digital lessons and testing  measure their learning and progress carefully, and if they are on track, it lets them advance through the curriculum very quickly.   To compensate from strictly digital education, our 6th & 7th graders are doing crime scene investigations down to and including the entomology and maturity of the carrion feeding insects, as part of a course.  Cool stuff.  They constantly move from room to room and setting to setting in their school during the day, carrying their desk, pens, papers, research library, etc.,  (i.e. Chromebook) with them as they go. 

They  understand the digital world and how to navigate its throughways and byways.  Hopefully, they'll put those skills to work mining the wealth of online resources for data about their ancestry.  

Fortunately, even with the handicap of our "ancientness", we can still help them from time to time.   In our own family for example, If they get hung up on something, they start a Google Hangout with me asking how to do it.   I smiled the first time I realized that the whole class was crowded around listening to our conversation plus reading the concurrent text chat.  The teacher / leader came over and asked who they were talking to...   "My Grandpa."  "He's a subject matter expert."    I laughed so much that I had to mute my microphone for a minute lest they hear my guffaws....   Times really have changed.    My generation and possibly some of your generation are probably dinosaurs (based on the number of cycles we've burned in relation to the maelstrom of time ticks in this technological age)..   Feeling old yet?  

If we think back and try to put the perceived reality of early our lives in perspective with those of our children and grandchildren, it's hard to find matches on many of the tracks of our respective timelines.    Can you imagine having the thought cross your mind, let alone having the technology to call your grandpa for help on Java coding when you were in 7th grade?  (or whatever its equivalent would have been?)    It never would have happened or even crossed my mind back then.  Today, our grandchildren regularly contact me "face to face" or "text to text" for help on something or the other thanks to the tech at their finger tips.

All of that said, do the young folks in your home and family have enough time to do genealogy research during the school year or is free time limited to summer vacations and holidays?   Their lives are busy with school, homework, sports, dancing, musical lessons and thousands of other activities.   Is there time in their lives for genealogy? 

Yes.  Especially, if they can see the enjoyment in being a detective and flout the mastery of their technological skills.   "Here, grandma, grandpa, mom or dad."  "Let me show you how to do that."  "Look what I found about our ancestor, the inventor, queen, pirate, diplomat!"

There are minutes here and there throughout the week when they can put their tech skills to work as family history detectives.   Combine that effort with holiday and summer schedules and they can uncover real treasures.  These victories won't fade with time like the successful conquest of a game on a PlayStation.  Instead, they are permanent.   The ancestral discoveries that I made at age 10 are still as valuable to me and my family today as they were to that freckle-faced kid all those years ago.   Take a little time and introduce your young folks to their own ancestral quest.   Help them win the long-lasting reward of ancestral discovery.

Posted 4 Sep 2014 by Lee R. Drew on Lineagekeeper’s Genealogy Blog