Thinking about Curriculum!
Case, Larry, The Agricultural Education Magazine
When I heard the theme for this issue, "Eenie, Meanie, Minie, Moe . . .Pick the Curriculum that best fits Joe," I wondered who Joe was. Was it Joe Teacher, Joe Student, Joe Businessperson, Joe School Principal, or someone else? I believe all are important in developing or choosing a curriculum for the local agricultural education program. This is an important decision to the success of the program, the students and the agricultural businesses of the community and Nation.
Many times people think of curriculum as lesson plans, teaching materials/units or courses of study. Many times, we want to confine curriculum as what happens inside the formal classroom. Curriculum includes all of these things, and more. Curriculum, to me, includes all student experiences inside and outside the classroom, which provide meaningful learning toward a desired result.
Curriculum defines an instructional program and a profession. What we teach is our discipline and identifies us as unique. It provides indicators as to who we are and what we do. When asked what I do, I say, "I am an agricultural educator." Well, what do you teach? Answer, "Animal and plant science etc."
Less often we get the question"WeIl, how do you teach?" It is my belief that how you teach is also part of the curriculum. When we relate that supervised experience and leadership development through FFA or we use inquiry-based teaching as a way of delivering experiences that lead to a desired end, I believe it is a part of curriculum. When we include our teaching strategies as a part of the curriculum, then we are getting to higher-level thinking/problem solving instruction. I also believe this is the reason we use what is referred to as the "Three Circle Model"-Classroom instruction, Supervised experience, and leadership/personal development.
Over the years, this is what has made agricultural education special. I have heard it said that we teach the "whole person." Properly used, it also works well with a variety of learning styles. I believe we get beyond the retention of information and strive to challenge students to "think" through application of new information as well as "discovering" new information while solving problems.
Technical content is important. Technical content provides context for meaningful learning of academics, the "soft" skills of teamwork, leadership, etc. All of this is important for career preparation.
Technical content is a constantly changing area. To keep up-to-date is challenging and is detrimental if not done well. We not only need to be teaching Joe Student the latest information, but Joe Businessperson will support the program when he/she knows relevant information is being taught.
Joe School Principal is not only interested in relevant and meaningful instruction, but wants to know if students are learning and retaining the information. Student outcome measurement is difficult when used to measure program effectiveness. This really gets to be difficult when you want to measure student outcomes across several programs. Each program is teaching different topics so the input/instruction is not the same.
This begs the question-can we identify the common core of needed knowledge and skills for agricultural education? To address this question for all of Career Technical Education, the US Department of Education, in partnership with the National Association of …
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Publication information: Article title: Thinking about Curriculum!. Contributors: Case, Larry - Author. Journal title: The Agricultural Education Magazine. Volume: 80. Issue: 2 Publication date: September/October 2007. Page number: 9+. © National Council for Agricultural Education Nov/Dec 2008. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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