Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

A Guide to Starting Your Family History in 10 Very Basic Steps -- Step Four

This is an ongoing series on starting your family history research in 10 very basic steps. The steps so far are:

Step One: Start with yourself.
Step Two: Find out what has already been done.
Step Three: Choose a reasonable goal

Now I will move on to Step Four:

Step Four: Start educating yourself

Almost of all of us have been raised in an environment of "formal" education where we have been spoon fed only what has been accepted as appropriate and politically correct at the time to teach. Learning to read, write and do arithmetic has morphed into a complex system of teaching to a series of tests where most of the students have a negative attitude towards self-motivated learning. Learning is now "Work" with a capital "W." In this atmosphere learning is equated with "job preparation and security." Learning for life is aimed at the time when you are fired from your present job and need additional skills to acquire another job. People who wish to know about "unproductive" subjects like art and literature are seen as somehow wasting their productive capacity.

This is not necessarily a new phenomena, nor is it confined to any one country. Here is a quote from a blog entitled, and an article entitled, "Beyond the Comfort Zone: 6 Ways to Build Independent Thinking."
The shift toward applying more executive function (EF) within learning and assessment will cause some discomfort in teachers and students. The transition will not eliminate the need for memorization, as automatic use of foundational knowledge is the toolkit for the executive functions. Memorization, however, will not be adequate as meaningful learning becomes more about applying, communicating and supporting what one knows.
 The six steps mentioned in the article include

  • Supporting opinions
  • Prioritizing
  • Evaluation of Motive or Intent
  • Organizing Time, Thought and Actions
  • Cognitive Flexibility and Supporting Opinions
  • Interpreting Source Bias or Accuracy

What happened to going to the library and reading a lot of books and then learning how to do something really well? I have written about this before, but it bears repeating. Not to long ago, I was talking with one of my grand-daughters about her classes in Jr. High School. I asked her about whether or not she was learning any history. She produced her "Social Studies" book and I went through the book. The first part of the book dealt with the injustices suffered by Native Americans at the hands of the cruel European invaders of their sovereign territory. The rest of the book dealt with the Civil Rights Movement. That was American History as taught to Jr. High School students in Utah. Is it no wonder that when I teach a class on military history, the attendees are surprised to learn about the American Civil War?

Family History or genealogy or whatever you want to call it is the history of your family. Researching your family history today requires several complex skills and a considerable amount of knowledge, that are involved in an ability to use computers, use research skills, use a detailed knowledge of history, use library and archive skills,  reading handwritten documents, and many other similar activities. Did you learn these things in school? Do you have a negative attitude about doing research or searching in libraries? Have you read a history book lately?

When I talk about educating yourself, I am not just talking about learning how to use I am suggesting that you need to overcome your formal education and start learning the things that will help you do genealogical research. This is what I mean when I start talking about the basic steps needed to do genealogical research.

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