Thursday, August 18, 2011

Leave It to the Professionals

Once upon a time I went to an NGS conference with a very bad attitude. Having a bachelor's in history, I thought I already knew how to do research. I knew my way around courthouses, libraries and archives, so what could they possibly teach me that I didn't already know? OMG! Was I ever wrong?

With the first seminar hosted by Barbara Vines Little, my eyes were opened and I felt like Alice stepping through the looking glass. There were more possibilities than I had even imagined. Class after class, my enthusiasm for my amateur sleuthing was growing to the point I thought I just might burst. Traipsing through libraries and courthouse vaults has now become a passion.

I do, however, have one little bone to pick with about three genealogists and I'm not sure if they will know who they are. Somebody suggested on Facebook that if she never heard another story about the research of an amateur it would be too soon.

Wait! Weren't you supposed to be a teacher? Isn't that why you teach conferences, to inspire and nurture the novice? Look, I know you're tired. I know you've been doing this a long time and a beginner's little escapades mean nothing to you, but do you have to make it so obvious? Are you truly the professional you claim to be?

Madeleine Albright once said, "There is a special place in hell for women who will not help other women." Well I think that might be true for anyone who is in the position to help someone and chooses not to do so because she thinks the person needing the help is somehow beneath her.

Barbara Vines Little is AMAZING! Her enthusiasm is infectious, and I hang on every word she utters. She is a GREAT teacher! She is great because her students become great at what they do.

Are you a great teacher like Barbara Vines Little? Do you inspire? Do you encourage? Do you stay and answer each and every question no matter how benign? If you answer no to any of these questions, please don't teach anymore. You're a waste of time and oxygen. Leave it to the professionals.

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