Family Tree

Our first lesson, as parents at the Hawaiian immersion school, was in genealogy.  We learned about to say introductions, the difference between where you are from vs where you were born, and the role family lineage plays in all those things.

Our first homework assignment was to write out a genealogy - mother's side and father's side - going back four generations (great-great grandparents).  I've always been somewhat interested in family trees and even I couldn't fill-in all the blanks off the top of my head, much less recite it in chant form the way the kumu (teacher) did!

So whats the big deal with lineage?

The simple explanation is that in social settings it puts you on a level that is equal to people of different generations.  If a child asks "who are you?", it's unlikely you will respond, "I'm Jane Smith."  You will probably say, "I'm Timmy's mom."  Similarly, if an elderly person asks "who are you?", they don't really care that you are Jane Smith.  They want to know who you are in relation to them - their generation.  Hence, reciting your genealogy.

for example: "Bob Smith from Waimanu and Sara Kanu from Honolulu came together and had a son Steve Smith.  Steve Smith from Honolulu and Tracy Chapman from Oregon came together and had a daughter Jane Smith.  That's me."

Oh, ok.

I'm proud to teach my kids about their relatives.  And I like the concept of teaching them who they are in relation to their family rather than the other way around.  It keeps the focus on them being a contributing member of a larger whole, rather than the world revolving around them.    

Genealogy is also really fun.  I like knowing where I come from and something about the people who - in whatever small way - contributed to me being who I am.  I like the strange names that run in a family and I often wonder why certain names (like Adolph) were chosen.  I like the weird coincidences, like how both my mom and dad's families came over to the US in the same generation.  I haven't found any royalty or distant cousin celebrities, but coming from dairy farmers isn't all that bad either.

No comments:

Post a Comment