Monday, November 11, 2013

Day 8: Education Today - Turning from S.T.E.M. to S.T.E.A.M.

I know I am writing consistently a day behind (I wrote this and Day 9 out on paper this weekend). 

Education in the 21st century is more complicated than U.S. tax code.  We are also surrounded in an environment where nationally, education budgets are being slashed left and right.  Every area has a different, yet similar set of issues, but I want to talk about agriculture education specifically.  In this writing, I need to begin by saying I mean absolutely no disrespect to any teachers, administrators, or local legislators.  I hold them all in a very high regard.

My home high school may be on the path to losing our agriculture education program.  Unfortunately this has been a long time coming.  Since 2009, Jasper has not had a full agriculture curriculum.  When the corporation could not find a replacement teacher, we were lucky enough to at least have our previous teacher offer to teach two classes per day.  This led to the further decline to a point where most of our student body is nearly unaware of the fact that we offer agriculture.

Where do we go from here?  The four steps of creativity would be my place to start.  Step one is looking for something new, and to begin brainstorming ways to revitalize and grow an old, dated program.  Step two is incubation.  In this stage, we must brew over these ideas and let them sink in.  Step 3 is Illumination.  This is where we have our "light bulb" moment.  This often takes time and occurs in less-than-opportune times, like in the car, lying awake at night, or in the shower.  Step four is the hardest; implementation.  Many people will give up in step four.  Never give up!! You fought to get this far!

As I continue to try working with my school's administration in order to hopefully rescue and revive this, it is my responsibility to utilize these steps to help the corporation succeed with this venture.

Back to my original point, education in America is a fragile system that politicians continue to strip.  What we need is a revitalization of the education system.  In Indiana specifically, we push students very hard toward S.T.E.M. careers (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).  My school specifically is a large supporter of our engineering and health science pathways, as well as our vocational technical programs in welding, auto mechanics, and the like.  What is missing here?  Well (again, do not get me wrong, or be offended), it's great to have a population trained in healthcare, tech, engineering, and math, but we lose some steam in logic.  Who is going to feed these people??  I want to advocate for a S.T.E.A.M. program (Science, Technology, Engineering, Agriculture, and Math).  You may think, "Well, doesn't agriculture fall under EVERY SINGLE ONE of these categories?!"  Yes sir/ma'am it does.  Well then, why should this be changed?  Everyone FORGETS about this!  A few students in my home high school were asked last year and laughed when asked if they considered a future in agriculture.  "I don't know anything about farming or animals!" is the common response.  Well, good!  You fit in with a large percentage of those now working in the agriculture world.  In 2012, only 1.5-2% of people in America were actually involved in farming.  The opportunities are endless. 

Education and advocacy are starting points.  A move from schools preaching S.T.E.M. to teaching S.T.E.A.M. would give millions more students the opportunity to succeed in a place that they never previously would have known existed.  They  can use any talent they have, whether it be technical, creative, or quantitative, however they wish.  This is real life.  This is today, and food, fiber, and fuel is the future of the world.  It's up to us to keep moving forward.  Where will you go??

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