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High school teacher praised after explaining what ‘first cousin once removed’ means: ‘I finally understand’

‘This is the first time I’ve ever understood a family tree,’ one viewer says

Chelsea Ritschel
New York
Saturday 12 February 2022 14:11 GMT
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A high school teacher is being applauded after explaining with a hand-drawn family tree what the term “first cousin once removed” actually means.

Kevin Silberman, a ninth-grade social studies teacher who goes by the username @silb0017 on TikTok, frequently shares insight into his days teaching high school students on the platform.

However, in a TikTok posted last month, Silberman addressed a common question he received about our relationships to our family members after sharing a whiteboard graph depicting generations of cousins, and how each one is related.

In a follow-up video in response to a comment that asked: “What is my cousin’s child to me?” the high school teacher, who could be seen standing in front of another hand-drawn graph, reacted wearily to the inquiry before noting that he had “a lot of questions on this TikTok”.

Silberman then proceeded to refer to the graph, where he had drawn himself as a stick figure below a stick figure indicating his father and another one above his father that indicated his grandfather.

The graph also included a stick figure for his uncle, which was drawn parallel to Silberman’s father, and his uncle’s son, who was parallel to him on the graph.

“My uncle’s son would be my first cousin,” he explained. “My first cousin’s son would be my first cousin once removed. Removed means down a generation.”

The educator then explained that, if his first cousin once removed had a son, that would be his first cousin twice removed.

Silberman also clarified that his first cousin’s son and his son would be second cousins, before concluding: “I hope that clears things up.”

He then joked: “This is really not why I got into TikTok by the way.”

The simple yet helpful video has been viewed more than 11m times on TikTok, where many viewers have revealed that they didn’t know what the phrase meant until now.

“I’m gonna confess I thought once removed means they were married to your fam then got divorced,” one viewer said, while another wrote: “I’m almost 39 years old and this the first time I’ve heard someone explain the ‘once removed’ thing.”

According to someone else, they previously thought that “removed” meant “someone decided they didn’t like their cousin anymore”.

“This is the first time I’ve ever understood a family tree, thank you,” another viewer added.

While many praised Silberman for the explanation, others joked that the concept was still too confusing despite the generational family tree break-down.

“I’m just gonna call them all my cousins,” one person claimed, while another said: “I think my brain is melting.”

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