I realize I have been gone from the blog in a very long time. And I realize that I had resolved to do better at that. I had actually written a long post about how desperate I am for “me time”. It took me three weeks to write it. And in the end I decided it was far more whiny than I want to be, so abandoned the post.
And also I’ve been sick for four hundred years. Give or take a day or two.
But the other day I was awakened from my blog stupor by a rant-worthy homework assignment of Dolittle’s. The assignment – a social studies project – covered collecting a wide variety of information on culture in response to about 9-10 questions. Things like how things have changed on the Island in 20 years, finding news articles related to culture, etc. And it also included finding out the jobs your family members have held for as far back as you could go.
While I applaud an assignment which hones researching skills on a multitude of levels (on-line searching, personal interviews, etc.), and provides a creative forum for the presentation of findings, I am boggled at how tracing geneology is a fair question in a world where it is just as likely that you are someone with a non-traditional or largely non-existent family, as it is to be someone with a fairly solid and traditional family tree. What if I am a child who does not know their father? What if I have a family that has been broken so many times that the family tree is mere kindling? What if I have no relative I can go to that can relate the work history of generations? Would it be acceptable for a child to hand in something that said, “I am Little Johnny, and my family tree starts here. I will accomplish great things one day”? And how will Little Johnny’s presentation compare to those of his peers?
As clarification, we are not in the Little Johnny boat. Dolittle was able to collect information on her family work history back to her great grandparents, learned some fascinating little tidbits of family history, and got to see pictures of two ancestors that share her name. All in all the assignment was great for her, and I’m glad she got to do it. But somewhere in my heart I still feel for Little Johnny, and how it must feel to be assigned something which would not only be personally impossible, but be compared with peers on at least some level.
I remain baffled by the thinking behind the project… Why would the assignment not have been “research 6 of these 10 things” (or something like that)? Wouldn’t that have fostered 21st-century learning just as well without putting anyone’s self esteem at issue?
So, I am sending virtual hugs to all the Little Johnnys of the world. Because I really do believe your family tree can begin with you. And if you believe you can accomplish great things, then I believe you can too.