Preparing Students for the 21st Century with Community Impact

Article excerpt

Upon receiving your first job as an agricultural education teacher, there are many factors to consider like teaching classes, assisting students with SAE projects, advising the FFA, but most importantly how to collaborate with community members to ensure students receive a valued education. There are also many pressures to meet all the expectations outlined in school reform.

Recently, I sat through a workshop on preparing high school teachers for the field of agricultural education and where challenges were outlined for preparing teachers to teach students of the 21st century. As I reflected on the workshop, one document that was thoroughly discussed, Framework for 21s' Learning (Partnership of 21st Century Skills, 2009), grabbed my attention. After reading the document, I soon realized teachers need to work more efficiently to prepare students for the 21s' century. Due to the rigorous demands outlined in school reform, challenges are presented to teachers in incorporating all of the skills into their curriculum. There were four specific areas discussed which requires educators to engage the community in order to meet the expectations outlined in the school reform document. Those skills are mastery of core subjects and 21st century themes; learning and innovation skills; information, media and technology skills; and life and career skills. While all educators strive to meet the expectations of school reform, agricultural education teachers have the capacity to conduct unique activities to engage the community in this effort.

Mastery of Core Subjects and 21s< Century Themes

Students of the 21st century are expected to master subjects in English, world languages, arts, mathematics, economics, science, geography, history and government and civics. In addition, they will need to have a basic understanding of global awareness, financial and economic literacy, civic literacy, and health literacy. It is imperative for all educators to engage students with the local community to assist in development of these core subjects and 2 1st century themes.

One way to incorporate subject areas into a community activity would be to have students design an international business plan for an agricultural commodity. High school students would involve local bank members to assist with the financial operations, the local automotive dealerships (or other international industry) to assist with international business and trade ideas, local politicians to assist with the political issues that arise, and local farmers and health professionals to accommodate the agricultural and health aspects of the business plan.

Learning and Innovation Skills

The three areas which need attention in this category are creativity and innovation, critical thinking and problem solving, and communication and collaboration. While these skills appear to be easily established, employers have expressed students need to develop better critical thinking and problem solving abilities. Agricultural educators do an excellent job facilitating the enhancement of these skills in the classroom through Career Development Events and SAEs, but the involvement of community members is essential in establishing skills for real world applications. …

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