Exploring identity, expression and family history at the IFHC

Students are getting help from the experts at the Irish Family History Centre, writes Claire Murray

THE Irish Family History Centre has a strong commitment to education — whether it involves getting primary school pupils on the path to exploring their own family history, or teaching older students essential research skills, including how to interpret and critique sources.

The traditional focus of the schools history curriculum has been on political history, with a focus on the ‘great men’ (and some women), who made their mark. Family history is a different type of history to what you find in the history books.

It focuses on individuals and families and their personal achievements. Family history allows students to dive straight in to research; to build on connections within their family network and community; and provides a perspective, to examine and hopefully to better understand themselves and their own families.

21st-century Ireland is wonderfully multicultural and identity as a theme plays a huge part in our education programme. The Irish Family History Centre’s workshops have been developed around themes of accessibility, diversity, individuality and creativity.

The workshops cater to Irish and international students, build on different learning methods and styles, and are interdisciplinary and curriculum-based.

The course content has been prepared by leading practitioners in the field of Irish Family History/Genealogy, so there’s a practical element to the workshops too. It’s not every day that you get to offer your students an educational experience that the Obama family, former Vice-President Biden’s family, and leading entertainment stars including Tom Cruise, sought out and availed of.

While the workshop activities differ depending on whether students are in primary or secondary level, the support offered throughout the programme is consistent for every single student. All programmes can be delivered on-site at the Irish Family History Centre, or in the schools themselves.

The workshops are hands-on and give students an opportunity to act as ‘historical detectives’ in the context of their own family history. Students get to follow their own path to the past, and we are there every step of the way. The education programme is rolled out over six to eight weeks, and combines a workshop, with project work, and a creative project.

On conclusion, students will have learnt basic research skills; have a family tree and short report; and hopefully a better understanding of their subject. For more information about our education programmes, contact education@irishfamilyhistorycentre.com.

Are you researching your family history? Discover the amazing work the Irish Family History Centre do and click here to find out how you can discover your Irish roots!

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