The demonstration method in agricultural education and extension is parallel in the importance and use. Seaman Knapp considered the father of Extension once said what a man hears, he may doubt; what he sees he may also doubt; but what he does, he cannot doubt which suggest that it is not enough to explain, or show to impact the learner. In demonstration the learner must actually “do” or experience the concept, and more importantly be able to apply what is learned. The demonstration method is especially relevant in agricultural education and extension work. This method is user-friendly, and can be inviting to adults, and exciting for youth. Demonstration methods laid the foundation for extension work. The rural farmer and family still benefits from the development of the extension agent and system.
The demonstration method has evolved since Knapp’s famous boll weevil project in 1903. Knapps’ work in helping cotton farmers in Texas eradicate the boll weevil epidemic paved the way for the creation of cooperative extension. With the evolution of demonstration, and the technology age, Knapp’s demonstrations method has advanced into a viable network of resources farmers rely on. Knapp’s demonstrations were based on tested farm experiments’, however the extension agents of today rely on the small farm stations at land-grant colleges, USDA research and technological innovations to distribute new practices relevant to farmers today. Knapp recognized the need to expand extension education and demonstration to the rural communities that lacked resources through encouraging agricultural programs and schools for the youth. There was no gain if the adult farmers were educated about the latest in agriculture, but the youth were not, Knapp questioned how the work would carry on. Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver were working at the same time to get agricultural education to blacks through the development of the movable school. This was a wagon outfitted with the latest innovations in farming that could be demonstrated for black farmers. Knapp had worked with Carver at Iowa University and was also acquainted with Washington and saw a great value in the Movable school, and the need to expose black farmers to advances in agriculture. Although the Cooperative Extension system was segregated, Knapp saw the importance in disseminating agricultural information and new practices to the masses.
The demonstration method is not a representation of one method, but more of a compilation of several methods. In implementing a demonstration the type of knowledge the applicant will learn should be considered. The level of audience participation is crucial in presenting an effective demonstration. And the desired outcome must be in the forefront in making provisions in planning and implementation. The correlation between demonstration and modern education is distinct in that Common Core standards emphasis real world application that will be useful in college or a career. The hands-on element in demonstration is relevant in any classroom. The demonstration method is not a practical method to use exclusively but can be very engaging if properly planned and executed.
Although demonstration is not ideal in every lesson, I will work to incorporate demonstration often to expose the students to the benefits in agricultural education, and the power of learning for life. My use of demonstration will be apparent in the students level of engagement and willingness to participate, through assessment and the students level of enjoyment while learning.