Knowledge is displayed in many ways


Everyone should have a dream that turns into reality. I am reminded of this when I hear our 4-H kids talk about coming to Ohio State to build their dream.In the senior year of high school, it becomes less talk and more action as the application lays on the desk and bids them to fill in the blanks. Somewhere in this scenario, there are also anxious parents who would like the best for their kids and will also guide them through the financial decisions that are a part of “growing up.”

Tests that measure knowledge are also a part of the process. Guidance counselors provide the information and a college’s admissions department sets the standards for the institution. Nothing so out of the ordinary to this point!

Defining knowledge

Here are a few accepted definitions of knowledge: 1. The understanding of a science, art or technique, 2. Truth gained through reasoning, and 3. Something more important than looks or money.

The dreams of those high school seniors are connected to how we assess knowledge. These kids spend hours taking standardized tests that are an integral part of the selection process to a college or university. Those of us who spend our careers working with youth, such as 4-H, have the opportunity to become a part of what makes each of you special.

We can measure social and emotional intelligence as it relates to that dairy cow or calf. Working with 4-H projects provides us with the test of just HOW we can believe and achieve. The Tufts University 4-H study documents this effectively.

According to a recent Columbia University study, the power of I-think-I-can or the belief that you can get smarter can actually make us more knowledgeable. A group of students in New York City was taught that intelligence can change and increase over time.

A second group was told intelligence is fixed, and that it’s not likely for someone to become smarter.

The first group showed more motivation academically and improved significantly in math scores over the course of two years, while the second group showed no improvement. I would like to jump up and shout three cheers for the power of positive thinking.

How about you?

Learning from cows. It is one of the best experiences of my professional and personal life to observe kids that love spending time with cows, who learn the art of showmanship, who can create a set of oral reasons, who take time to listen and help others, who share their best 4-H stories as a mentor, and who define life beyond the usual and customary methods.

Although those test scores tell us something, they cannot possibly measure any of what I just mentioned. There are many ways of being smart. So if there any 4-Hers out there soaking up what I have just written, realize that your mind will take you far, but the rest is your own determination.

Do not let a test score deter you from the power of the dream. There are lessons we all must learn. When you master your fate, I hope these simple words will be somewhere stuck in your memory.


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Bonnie Ayars is a dairy program specialist at Ohio State University, coordinating all state 4-H dairy programs and coaching the OSU collegiate and 4-H dairy judging teams. She and her husband also own and operate a Brown Swiss and Guernsey cattle farm. In 1994, Bonnie was named Woman of the Year at the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis.



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