AgEd 260

Class Reflection – Fall 2010

Learning about leadership in an academic setting is different than in voluntary trainings such as I-Programs. This difference isn’t positive or negative, but there is a different feeling of community due to the structure of the setting. In training environments, all participants are typically excited to be present and very willing to participate. With an academic setting, all students likely are willingly enrolled in the course but most activities are required.

I make this distinction to highlight the potential opportunities a leader can have in a classroom environment. In AgEd 260, we focused mainly on the Northouse theories of leadership which emphasized numerous approaches and styles that a leader can adopt. Through this course, I realized that the Leadership Certificate took a more theory-based approach in their training. Although not explicitly noted in I-Programs, all of the content taught is based off of academic theories. Since by the time I completed this course, I had already been through multiple I-Programs, I appreciated gaining some perspective about where the content is coming from.

Even though I did enjoy learning the concepts, I have found that more usable knowledge came from the I-Programs and LeaderShape, as these programs take the theories and directly apply it to everyday life. Even with the more traditional set-up of the course, our instructor tried to change up the “flow” of things to more participative and interactive activities. This course provided me with a basic understanding of the foundation of modern leadership. Acknowledging the historical progression of leadership is the best way to move forward to not repeat past mistakes.

Given the nature of the environment of the classroom, this course was a great way for me to begin to appreciate and better understand the importance of community building skills. Even in unsuspecting situations, prolonged interactions with a particular group cause a natural community to form. In classroom settings, the typical purpose of everyone’s attendance is to learn the concepts that are being taught and disregard much concern for those around. In this course, the professor mixed community and content within the traditional structure of a classroom.

Specifically, I found this experience helpful to developing my community building skills because in many situations where community is essential, we are not given an ideal set-up. Having to find a way to become friendly and somehow connect with your “neighbors” through small talk is a major factor. Through simple conversations and small-talk, you can learn a lot about others and know the diversity of strengths available in any said community.

Beginning the academic side of the Leadership Certificate Program with AgEd 260 was a good way to become exposed to the theoretical approach of leadership. Many times, popular culture seems to dominate and skew the accurate facts about leadership. Digesting and applying Northouse’s theories helps provide a different perspective. This course helped me be more prepared for other leadership classes as many fundamental concepts are covered. Surely there is a reason that this course is a required aspect of the leadership certificate program.