Managing the Future of Agri-Science Education

Article excerpt

The future of agricultural education, and all the vocational education disciplines, will be brighter and more productive if teachers can master a few timemanagement methods. Here are some examples for agri-science teachers.

Leaders in agricultural education all seem to be talking about similar things these days-distance learning, 4x4 block scheduling, teaching on the Internet, global competition and information technology, among a few other subjects. The professional life of an agri-science teacher is becoming more complicated daily as each education trend or technology piles on. In the meantime, teachers still have students to teach, contest teams to train, facilities and equipment to maintain and repair, FFA chapters to advise and SAE projects to supervise. How can teachers stay current in their profession and maintain a quality agri-science program?

The answer is simpler than teachers may think: Teachers should spend less time and effort on teaching. Hold on, this isn't suggesting that teachers should adopt a lazy or unprofessional approach. Instead, teachers must become master facilitators of learning. This calls for teachers to implement common human resource and time-management principles. Here are some examples.

Classroom and laboratory instruction. Agri-science teachers are among the pioneers and masters of the hands-on, application-oriented and problem-solving methods of teaching. It's time to take this a step further. To the extent possible, students should be allowed and encouraged to take more responsibility for their own learning. Students could be called on to plan agri-science experiments, classroom activities and agricultural mechanics skill development projects. This would boost their self-confidence, enhance the problemsolving approach to education and give them a greater sense of ownership of their education.

Training teams for contests. Most agri-science teachers take tremendous pride in their FFA contest teams with good reason. These have always been a symbol of quality in agriscience education programs. However, to produce winning teams an agri-science teacher does not have to personally train every team. For example, for the meat judging and identification contest, a local butcher or meat market manager would make an excellent trainer for the FFA meats team. The butcher or manager can plan and set up training exercises in his or her own facility, often the same facility the teacher would have used. While the butcher is training the team, agri-science teachers can provide adequate instructional supervision and can still be working on other projects. …