Be alerted–I don’t speak beginning genealogy.

If you are coming  to hear me speak at a Family History EXPO or a genealogy seminar,  please be alerted:  I don’t speak beginning genealogy. 

Actually, I don’t believe in watered-down instruction.  And speaking strictly for myself, I don’t appreciate the watered-down version of anything!  I want to to know, right up front, what I am facing in a search and what I will have to do to make it successful for myself.  I want to know, right up front, what the pitfalls are and how to avoid them.  I want to know where others have tried and failed–I don’t want to repeat their losses.  Not since I was small, have I read or attended or participated in beginning anything.

Lest this seem arrogant to you, my loyal readers,  let me pose this one question:  Why must we fail first to learn? 

While I was a graduate student in the History Department of the University of Utah, a special learning system was presented that would enable any student to get an A.  “What a novel approach,” I reasoned.  So I asked the Chairman if I could be the delegate from the History Department to learn this new system.  I was appointed to take the three-quarter program and bring the information back to the Department.

What I did with it:  I applied what I learned, as I learned it, to History 101 classes I was teaching at the University–the beginning history for those who did not select History as their major.  I told the students what I intended to do.  I prepared a syllabus with bibliographies and text.  I selected test questions and cited references that answered each and every question.  I said, “If you study what I have prepared and read the suggested readings, you will be able to fill the assignments and answer the test questions.  And you will earn an A.  What I am more concerned with is that you end the class knowing the material–knowing the place of history in your lives and how you can be successful learning history.”

Those students who followed my advice, got an A.  Now, I won’t kid you that everyone got an A.  There were other grades earned too.  Over 50% of the class did!

So the Department sent the History Police to investigate how so many of my students could possibly get an A.  When you grade on the curve normally, less than 10% can earn an A.   And those students are offset by those who get an F. 

What idiot created this system?  Where you have to give the same number of F’s to match the A’s.  Where you set up a certain number of students to fail–do you think the students don’t know that in advance?  I did.  I just determined ahead of time that I wanted to know the answers–in short, I wanted to learn.  I still do.  The old system has become so entrenched at all levels of schooling, that there is no interest and no real incentive for education to change their ways.  So it was with the History Department .  The new system became a threat–it required professors who had prepared their lectures already to re-learn and re-do. 

I understand the cost  a teacher makes re-learning and re-doing.  It is huge.  Huge!  Requires learning new skills.  Actually reading the entries in the bibliographies.  Re-structuring  presentations.  Preparing the whole class at the first of the semester rather than cramming a few facts as you go.  Perhaps, changing your entire belief system in the face of newly discovered facts.  Changing the way you assess success for a student.  And defending your work in the face of critics with seniority and tenure on their side.

What does this have to do with your genealogy?

If I encounter a genealogy research question that I can’t solve, I study until I discover a way to solve the problem:  I look for hidden evidence.  I discover a record that others have not studied.  I compare what others have found against a list of possible answers–what strategies will work best to extend the lineage?  I keep trying and searching and looking for the right answer–even after I no longer work for that client!  I keep the information in their files.  You see, I also keep a copy of all the research I do.  I make copies of the documents, the maps, the sources lists, and the charts.  I can go back and review the problem with new material I find along the way–as I research other families in the same areas or sets of records.

When I prepare a new genealogy presentation for delivery at the conference or seminar, I plan it the same way I learned to prepare college courses.  And I present what I prepared in a way, if you attend, you can apply what I teach.  I changed my whole approach to learning, before I was entrenched in “curve grading ” (and preparation).  My syllabus materials, except for illustrations and maps, include instructions that have not been watered-down, strategies, bibliographies, what pitfalls you will encounter as you proceed.  My classroom presentations provide examples and what to do with what you find.  All you have to do is study, apply, and succeed

This is my philosophy for success.  As a genealogist tracing your pedigree if you don’t want to do it yourself.  As a teacher speaking to you at Family History EXPOs or genealogy seminars.  As a writer of genealogy guides and how-to-do-it-yourself  texts.  As a consultant at the “Ask-the-Pros” booth at EXPOS or sitting in my own exhibit booth at events.  I share what I know in a way that I know teaches.  When I can achieve a 96% success rate, I want you to enjoy the same success.  What kind of teacher wants a student to get an F?  What kind of  teacher waters the steps to success down?

If you have questions about my approach, or the steps I outline, or the records I suggest will solve the problem, or even what I charge to do it for you–all you have to do is ask.  There are no dumb questions from my perspective.  There is always time at an event to come ask me what you want to know.  Or to have me clarify what I taught.  You can contact me by email or pose a question via this blog.  You can write me at Arlene Eakle, The Genealogical Institute, Inc., PO Box 129, Tremonton UT 84337-0129.  You can call me at 435-579-1743.

You can hire me.  I really do want to be your favorite genealogist, Arlene Eakle

PS  My blogs for TN and KY appear to be disabled in some way that I don’t understand how to fix.  As soon as my webmaster gets them up and running, I have a backload of posts to launch.  Cheers!

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