Sarah Warren

Apathy vs. Passion

Blog Post created by Sarah Warren on May 27, 2020

As agricultural educators, you were probably already familiar with most of the concepts portrayed in Chapter 7 of Marching Off the Map. I know many of you place a huge emphasis on real world experiences and giving students an opportunity to learn in a variety of ways. What Elmore calls for in this chapter, however, is really uncharted territory across most of the American school system. Even in your classroom, you often might find yourself held back by test scores and traditional education tracks. How exciting would it be if we could all pursue the ideals expressed? If we could have EPIC classrooms that encourage passion in an otherwise educationally apathetic Gen Z?


E - Experiential (p. 126)
P - Participatory (p. 127)
I - Image-Rich (p. 128)

C - Connected (p. 129)


Highest Level of Student Motivation: "I get to do something, using my gifts with people I enjoy, solving a problem regarding something that matters." (p. 137)


1) Review the above ways Elmore suggests we frame our curriculum and interactions with Gen Z to build their passion for learning. With these concepts fresh on your mind, pick one of the lesson plans that interest you from either of the previous activities we have had lesson submissions (I have linked them below). It must be someone else's lesson plan, not your own. Using the ideas and concepts from Chapter 7, as well as your own teaching experiences, brainstorm some ways to motivate students and make that lesson EPIC. Post a comment with your ideas under the lesson document, just as you do during our discussions. Think of this as a (constructive) peer review of each other's lesson plans! Try to comment on a lesson that has not already received feedback; if all lessons have been provided feedback, you may add your own comments to a lesson that has already been brainstormed. 



Map Maker #2: Engaging the Natives (Marching Off the Map Chapter 3 Folder)
Map Maker #5: Plumb Lines (Marching Off the Map Chapter 6 Folder)


2) Come back here and post a comment linking to the lesson you reviewed, as well as your biggest "Ah-ha!" moment you got from this chapter!


By the way, if you were curious like I was about the website mentioned on page 133, I have linked it below, along with a companion website that has been launched recently. Check them out, you never know what ideas they might spark!

Free Range Kids and Let Grow








P.S. Elmore mentioned two things in this chapter that really hit home with me, my own "ah-ha!" moments. I student taught at a deaf school, where things are often very different from the mainstream education system. However, I learned a ton of techniques during this experience that I have found would translate well into any classroom, a realization that was confirmed in this chapter! 
1) "Decades ago, Russian psychologists taught that learning occurs best in community; that we learn better in circles than in rows." (p. 132) I know this sentence was probably meant to be metaphorical, however it really hit home with me. In a deaf classroom, students and teachers all sit in a circle so that everyone can see when someone is signing. This facilitates complete communication for all students. I noticed that, when the students were sitting in a circle with me, and everyone was watching each other for the next hand to fly up and sign, they were so much more in tune with the conversation. Everyone had an equal opportunity to participate and be seen (there's no hiding in the back row), and I felt more comfortable sitting in the circle with them than standing up lecturing. It fostered honest conversations and more of a real-life feel - I rarely ever go to a social gathering and sit behind someone. When I'm in a meeting at work, we sit around the conference table, not behind each other. In general, we tend to live in circles, not rows. 

2) On p. 131 Elmore actually mentions sign language when talking about how gesturing makes content stick better. This might seem strange when thinking about how to incorporate it into your lessons, but I can confirm that gestures and drawing pictures can cross many educational boundaries, not just language. Many times there is no sign for very technical agricultural terms, so being able to play a sort of charades using the physical space around me to map out what I was trying to convey helped the students immensely. They might not have known the technical name for a tool, but after watching someone relate how big/small it is, situations where it might be used, the motion of how to use it, etc....they would be able to pick it out of a tool box because they have a mental concept of what the tool might look like and its function, more so than just remembering the name of it. If your students are unfamiliar with a concept or struggle with the technical vocabulary, don't be afraid to act it out, relating abstract concepts to concrete experiences!