Family history as a process for integrating acquired learning in social sciences
For a student in the fourth session at college, the name of this course, Integration process of acquired knowledge in social sciences (Démarche d’intégration des acquis en sciences humaines – DIASH), is not very reassuring. ‘’What? You mean we have to integrate all our acquired knowledge in social sciences and methodology? And the integration process involves reminders, transfers and metacognition, you say?’’ The students’ initial reaction is often not very positive. For the seasoned teacher, the first step will be to reassure the troops by explaining that the competency required by the ministère de l’Éducation consists in demonstrating the personal integration of the learning targeted in the program via an individual or group realization for a minimum of two disciplines in social sciences (anthropology, economics, geography, history, politics, psychology, or sociology). This could be perceived as an extensive project, even a career long endeavour! However everything has to be synthesized and realized in one multidisciplinary activity that can be completed in one session. In recent years, I offered my students the choice between three types of assignments to achieve this: drafting a bi-disciplinary essay, resolving a problem of their choice or producing their family history. To my amazement, nearly two thirds of the students opted for the family history. First, students had to be told that we were not asking them to trace their genealogy. Family history differs from genealogy in that it is not limited to listing ancestors, but consists of cumulating assorted data of a chronological, ethnographic, geographic, and socio-economical nature. Students can also make the connection between their family history and the broader political history. It could even be a sort of psycho-genealogy. It is therefore obvious that establishing one’s family history allows for the integration of at least two of the disciplines acquired in social sciences.
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