Sunday, November 28, 2010


Author Tammy Lynn Tipler-Priolo copyright 24 September 2010

Last night my husband and I went to our daughter’s school to meet some of her new teachers. We had met two of them last year and appreciate the hours of work they put into teaching the students their required curriculum. Her geography/history teacher was a little concerned with the geography he was required to teach this year, as it was apparently really dry stuff like statistics, economics and migration patterns. Subjects we as students several years ago would have taken in Second Year University. Being a genealogist, I am always trying to find ways to introduce the wonderful family passion of mine into other’s lives. I suggested to the teacher that he relate the migration patterns section to the migration patterns of their ancestors. He thought this was a wonderful idea and could see the connection to the history he would eventually also teach.

Genealogy is a personal thing, and when reaching students it is easier to relate to something they know about, and that would be their families for the most part. Now I am not assuming that every student would know their family history, but with a little creativity, a teacher could have a student wanting to learn more, if a little genealogy was used along with the subject at hand. If a language course was taught, the students could learn to relate to their own ancestors who came over to Canada as immigrants and could not speak English or French. What was it like for these ancestors when they met up with other nationalities and could not speak to one another? My husband’s grandmother came over from Italy in the 1930s and could not speak a word of English. She was able to communicate with the other housewives in the community who did not speak Italy, by sharing recipes, vegetables from the garden, plenty of smiling and lots of laughter.

Math class could use a bit of genealogy to spice up a course that can be very dull and boring for some confused students. Why not measure the distance from Canada to an ancestor’s homeland or calculate how long it would take a passenger ship in the 1800’s to travel from an ancestor’s homeland to Canada? Science could include a bit about crop rotation and what crops and animals their ancestors had on the farms; one look at the 1871 census agricultural schedule will show all sorts of items farming ancestors had in their possession. Reading and writing could include the life of an ancestor. Gym class could include physical activities that our ancestors partook in so many years ago. Bocce, an Italian form of lawn bowling or lacrosse that was created by North American Natives could be introduced to students. Thus, genealogy would seem to have a place in our schools. The idea of students learning about their own family history and relating this personal knowledge to all their subjects seems a grand idea to me. Now with a little luck this article will spur on more teachers to plunge into the genealogy world. You never know what they might achieve with a pedigree chart in one hand and a required subject in the other.

Happy Hunting!!


Tammy Tipler-Priolo BASc, PLCGS
The Ancestor Investigator is also the Ancestor Whisperer!