Authentic is one of the most powerful terms in language. Quite simply put, the Webster definition is real or genuine; true and accurate.
To an educator, on any level, it is a word that should describe the most relevant and current method of teaching content.
In society today, we have some rather liberal interpretations that have done little to respect the beauty of such a word.
Being authentic today forces us to match up our social media life (Facebook and Instagram, etc) to our personal life.
Although social media allows us the privilege of expressing our personal emotions and sometimes the occasional rant, it also provides the opportunity to distort the information.
According to Hannah Thompson-Weeman, with the Animal Agriculture Alliance (Ohio State graduate and former dairy judging team member), “fake news” is nothing new to animal agriculture.
It has plagued us with everything from half-truths and misinformation to blatant lies being spread from animal rights activist.
She further suggests that it is our responsibility to become task oriented and create conversations with our friends who might post some of those crazy and ridiculous stories.
I would like to add that we must respond with the most authentic and accurate sources of information. It is not the time to lose control in the “pig pen,” but an opportunity to respond with an educated approach.
If you need more inspiration and ideas of how to combat the spread of misleading or straight-up wrong claims, Hannah and I both urge you to check out the Animal Agriculture Alliance’s 2017 Stakeholders Summit, Connect to Protect Animal Ag.
Authenticity from this source will strengthen your efforts to dispel the myths.
As a baby boomer teaching millennials similar to Hannah, I am keenly aware that authentic learning experiences are important to this generation.
Therefore it makes sense that these students will expect authentic leadership. Teachers in and outside of the classroom are expected to be multifaceted.
The student in the front row may connect academically, but the one in the back may prefer your style of walking the room instead of standing in the front connected to a Power Point.
Yet I have found other students, who are parents, strongly identify with that portion of my teaching.
The authentic teacher attempts to locate that preference in each student and then connects the insight with the curriculum. That, my friends, is more of a theoretical goal than a realistic one.
However, just as Hannah suggests, we must find a way to reach out in conversation to discover each other’s unique identities and backgrounds.
Every time I sit down to compose these articles, I seriously attempt to search for an authentic theme.
As in the classroom or on the dairy judging trail, the authentic learning experience can be planned or spontaneous. At other times, it can emerge from the depths of a tragedy.
Wherever it surfaces, the authentic experience requires your attention and action.
Whatever generation you claim to be a part of, try not to be so consumed with daily routines that you fail to be the ambassador of authenticity.