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 Question for the Profession: Are You an Ostrich, a Worker Bee or a Beaver?


It’s not really that outlandish of a question when you think about the characteristics of these three critters. The ostrich, not a gregarious creature by nature, walks along picking at insects, vegetation, pretty much whatever it can find. When challenged, it typically runs the other way, unless you back it in a corner and then it comes out fighting. The worker bee, named appropriately because its only purpose in life is to keep the queen happy and healthy while producing the mechanisms that feed the colony, is a mindless little thing, working day in and day out, doing the same thing, whether it’s right or wrong. She gets riled when you disturb her work habits and is even known to attack without provocation. And the beaver, a pretty unassuming animal, toils away whether supervised or left to his own devices. A great problem solver, the beaver is always adapting when his work is altered by man or another animal, building a bigger and better dam each time. His work ethic is so good that it often takes dynamite to stop him.

So, which one are you? An ostrich, a worker bee or a beaver? I dare say that we all want to be likened to the beaver for his tenacity, skill and prowess. But when it comes to program improvement, I’d say most of us are more like the worker bee. We definitely don’t shy away from work or run when the going gets tough, but we do not like to have our weaknesses pointed out or shared with others.

If we decide to use the National Quality Program Standards as a program improvement tool, that’s exactly what we’ll have to do. We’ll have to point out our weaknesses and share them with others. Now, the ostrich will run away from this, hissing at those who suggest it be done and will attack anyone who dares to question his expertise as an educator. The worker bee will simply keep plugging away, just like every other day, hoping to make everyone happy rather than questioning her own abilities. On the other hand, the beaver will recuperate from the initial sting of identifying their weaknesses by working to solve the problems.

This month’s Making a Difference articles focus on implementing the National Quality Program Standards as an improvement tool for the overall program. You’ll read firsthand accounts of teachers who attended the pilot program in July describing how they are implementing changes to build a bigger and better agricultural education program. They even discuss how the standards will help them achieve better home/work life balance.

So, as you consider working through the NQPS improvement tool, my question for the profession this month is, “Are you an ostrich, a worker bee, or a beaver?”