‘Lifelong learning’ has been defined as the “ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated” pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reasons. Therefore, it not only enhances social inclusion, active citizenship, and personal development, but also self-sustainability, rather than competitiveness and employability.”
In the spirit of this definition of lifelong learning, I’ve been reflecting on some of the things I’ve learnt this year and what lies ahead for 2016.
2015 has been a fairly busy year in terms of conference attendance: AFFHO Congress in Canberra in March, the Unlock the Past Genealogy Baltic Cruise in July, and the In Time and Place (ITAP) conference in Brisbane in early October. In contrast, this year has been fairly light on in terms of my own presenting activities.
My eyes have been opened to the world of DNA and how this can contribute to family history research. My brother’s Y-DNA test results have come through as have those of my Autosomal DNA test. I am still to receive the results of a mtDNA test. These results so far have thrown up some interesting questions. I’ve already been contacted by a ‘5th cousin’ from Ireland who saw my results on the DNA website to see if we can find out where the connection lies. I have attended several presentations on DNA at the various conferences; in 2016 I plan to attend GSQs newly-formed DNA Interest Group and get together with a couple of other researchers who have already done a lot in this area. There is a lot to learn.
Earlier this year I spent many hours transcribing old documents for a study module I am undertaking. At various times I was almost tearing my hair out with frustration at my inability to read some of the words. More recently, however, I helped several people to read old documents and was delighted to find I could do this quite easily, only pausing on a small number of words. I prepared a course on reading old documents for GSQ in October, but in the end was unable to present due to the early arrival of my grandson. Nevertheless, the course went ahead and attendees found it useful. What I learnt from this is that you can benefit from something that’s incredibly difficult.
Another area I’ve been exploring in 2015 is that of evidence and proof: what is needed and sufficient to prove our hypotheses and assumptions. It is really valuable to challenge your assumptions to ensure you keep your research on track. This will be another focus area for me in 2016.
My experiences in 2015 have proved, yet again, that family history offers endless opportunities to learn new things; a major benefit of these opportunities is the ability to share what you have learned with others. It doesn’t matter whether you do this via a blog, an article in a magazine or journal, or just by sharing your research with anyone who will listen. Also you don’t necessarily have to travel interstate or overseas, there are lots of learning opportunities on your own doorstep. You just have to open your mind to what’s around you.
GSQs Education program for 2016 will be uploaded to the website in due course, so I recommend that you check out what’s on offer and make a commitment to come along. Even if the topic does not seem to be directly relevant to your current research, you can always learn something that may help in the future. As Henry Ford said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”
I wish all readers of this blog health and happiness for the upcoming festive season, and look forward to seeing you again in 2016.
Until next time.
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