To understand today, search yesterday.
As an impressionable group of student teachers listened in the 1970s to the late Thomas "Cotton" Neely, former teacher, coach, and advisor at Lubbock, Texas' Monterey High School, a question from the back of the room prompted an answer from Mr. Neely. "How do you continually motivate students to learn and excel in judging events, especially livestock and meat judging?" Cotton, as he was fondly called, responded without fanfare, "That's easy. Just use the six Rs: Have students read it, research it in the book, write it down, recite the answer, review the answer, and give them a test to find if they remember it."
Keep in mind, this answer was from a master agriculture teacher in an educational era devoid of computers, e-mail, digital cameras, or VCRs-where transparencies, 35 mm slide sets, mimeographed handouts, and chalkboards were the rule.
Less than fifteen years after that student teacher scenario, Naisbitt and Aburdene, in Megatrends 2000, forecast new directions for the 1990s based on global news reports. They aptly forecasted genetic manipulation of crops and farm animals, super tomatoes, genetically buttered popcorn, livestock with identical genotypes, animals for drug factories, and transgenesis. And they were right on target! What was not readily apparent was the impact of increasing technological demands on agri-science education and curriculum development. Naisbitt and Aburdene (1990) commented, "As we move through the next millennium, biotechnology will be as important as the computer" (p. 247). And, given the increase of computer usage in agricultural education since the publication of Megatrends 2000, the future will be even more interesting.
Current agri-science students and teachers are experiencing a technological resurrection of Cotton's philosophy in ways that would make the former teacher proud. The "six Rs" still hold true, but mix digital technology with rapidfire agricultural advances, computersavvy students, enthusiastic teachers, and "wired" schools, and watch out!
Technology has ushered in a change from traditional classroom lectures to teacher-facilitated and student-centered activities complete with Internet access, educational software, and sophisticated equipment. Rapid technological advances have enhanced applied agricultural activities, the historical mainstays of agricultural curriculum. Student learning has virtually "taken off' with increasing "megahertz and terabytes" for entry into an era of genomes, biotechnology, global information systems, and software applications.
Teachers Talk Technologically.
The following "agricultural megatrends" were shared electronically by teachers. Students and teachers' learning opportunities will morph in the 211 century as they read, write, research, recite, review, and remember while using the latest technology tools.
* At Sandra Day O' Connor High School, San Antonio, Texas, Holly Binns, agri-science teacher, indicated that Computer Applications in Agriculture is taught. O'Connor is an urban high school with 480 students enrolled in agri-science classes and 415 FFA members. Computers are used to complete projects for CDEs such as Agricultural Issues and Public Relations, Agri-science Fair research, SAEP record books, and research projects. Students also create presentations for laboratory safety, computer operations, and agricultural fair projects.
* Currently, Tony Dunkerley and Shane Crafton, Texas agriscience teachers at Henrietta High School have a 16-station computer lab plus a computer in each of two classrooms. Their computers are networked with the main school system to allow Internet access. Electronic presentations assist in presenting lessons, managing class time, and make sure all class sections get the same information. When teaching laboratory safety, presentations are shared so students obtain the same information when enrolled in different laboratory sections. …