What’s in your family tree?

When I was at school, I was always surprised at how few of my classmates knew what their parents who did for a living.  Of those of us who did, it turns out that most of our parents were self-employed. Since my dad, a carpenter, employed me at weekends,  I had a pretty good understanding of his occupation.

Later on, when I was a Geography teacher I was surprised again at how little many pupils knew about their families, immediate or extended, let alone what they did for a living.  One of their tasks for the ‘Industry’ unit was to build an occupational family tree – partly to understand how patterns of employment and industry have changed over time but, as was a happy consequence of the task, to start learning more about their family history by talking to parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles.

The Robin Hood Tree in winter

Exploring the branches of your career family tree could give you useful ideas for your own growth. Photo: D. Gillie, The Robin Hood Tree, Hadrian’s Wall, in winter

Family histories can be a treasure trove of occupational information, a source of insight into career management strategies (or lack of) and career paths or narratives.  I wonder how our career family histories influence our own career development? How much do you know about what members of your family did and how they constructed their careers? What obstacles did they face? What opportunities were or weren’t available to them? What could you learn from them?


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