LifeKnowledge Spotlight: Strengthening Soft Skills

By Stefany Deckard, FFA Education Specialist, Educational Programs

Jumbo shrimp. Awfully nice. Same difference. These are all examples of an oxymoron. Strengthening soft skills—same difference! Oxymoron aside, strengthening soft skills plays a vital role in living out the FFA mission. From daily activities, supervised agricultural experience projects and service learning to CDEs, soft skills are incorporated in all facets of developing the student leader.

Since 1999 the National FFA Organization has defined its mission by 16 essential learning precepts. These precepts—character, awareness, adaptability and vision, to name a few—are the same components that are now more commonly referred to as soft skills or 21st-century skills. Moreover, these same soft skills are the National Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (AFNR) career cluster content standards.

Because these precepts are cast in multiple areas of membership, awards and recognition and employers are conscientiously searching for applicants who embody these soft skills, the signs to intentionally incorporate these concepts into the classroom couldn’t be more apparent.

In 2002 ready-to-use lesson plans and teacher tools based on the precepts were created and branded as LifeKnowledge®. In 2011 the organization’s CDE programs incorporated these precepts into the scoring rubrics. Students not only have to demonstrate their technical knowledge but also their strengths as a team member and collaborator, for example, when evaluated by the judges.

The best way to exercise these soft skills is by using the LifeKnowledge lesson plans. Use the search feature to locate lessons by the precept you want to hone.

Here are some lessons to get you started:

Action

HS.73 – Strategies to include others on teams

HS.76 – Account ability on teams

AHS.29 – Capitalizing on the strengths of others

Communication

HS.38 – Interviewing techniques

MS.45 – Planning a public presentation

Decision making

HS.24 – Critical thinking skills

HS.25 – Applying critical thinking stills