Change

Considering I find myself in the group that can realistically say "remember when" I have seen a bit of change in the education field, or have I? I'm not sure. Just because I changed from a Hereford operation to an Angus operation, is that really change? Same daily chores I think.

change_cartoon1I believe some similar observations can be drawn in the field of education. I have witnessed and been involved in some minor changes, unfortunately (in my humble opinion) nothing of significance to improve overall education. Calculators, Madelyn Hunter, block scheduling, trimester, computer technology, competency based, CIM/CAM, sage on the stage/guide on the side, film strip to power-point, CCG's, course/classes versus program, ever changing standards, and of course the current "strategy of the moment" by one of the latest PHD authors. Concepts that are repackaged and renamed as the best possible solution to our education issues. That is a small sampling of my history and there may be a bit of cynicism here. Some less experienced readers might not recognize some of those terms.

I do believe that change or perception of change is important to keep us on the edge, to keep us thinking, to keep us fresh, to keep us at task. I once had a social studies teacher/peer that refused to adopt new textbooks because he would have to redo his worksheets and tests. Fortunately he was changed out in less than two years, and the students, parents, and community were glad to see that change. Don't find yourself in a similar scenario.

I have found it takes considerable time, and effort to stay abreast of the changes that face us in Ag- Education. It seems they are coming more often, and in greater learning curves. One thing is for sure, if you want to survive, be successful, and progressive, you better be flexible, adaptable, and willing to embrace current happenings, even if you are skeptical. It is a part of the task we face. We are all busy, so how can incorporating and adapting to change be managed? My strategies have been and they seemed to work for me: (There are publications on this topic)

  1. Be an integral part and leader of progressive change in your school, step up, step out. This keeps you in good graces with your administration, school board and other stake holders.
  2. Take every realistic opportunity to continue your education and learn about the latest developments in our field. That would include attending OVATA summer conference, Fall in-service, national conferences, local trainings, curriculum related workshops, etc. There are plenty of opportunities, take advantage of them. Cave dwellers tend to have a short career life span.
  3. Keep an open mind, use your imagination, be creative, incorporate the changes you experienced in the above. If you haven't changed anything since last year at this time you are in trouble.
  4. Be willing to take some risk, accept failures for what they simply are. Approach each day with some change in mind, be alive.

The significant changes I have witnessed in agriculture education (some good, some not so good, some just different): curriculum and objectives, parent/student expectations, technology, gender involvement, teacher commitment, teacher professionalism, opportunities for students, teacher-less education, testing, mandates, finances, and .................. You sort them out.

Dale Crawford is the agricultural science & technology teacher at Culver High School, and has taught agriculture for 36 years.