April 28, 2020 - 11:30am -- staubach.9@osu.edu

The world is full of characters but, life is much more complicated than a story. You might feel like your life is the A story line, or sometimes the B. But, there are no storylines, only a woven tapestry of events both complicated and simplified by the actions of others.

Educators often talk about agency, and what they mean is the control their students have over their own choices. But, policy makers often talk about systemic approaches to addressing wide spread issues. While they often argue that maintaining individual agency is essential and a given right, a good policy creates conditions in which the right decisions are the easiest decisions.

I ask you then, where is the agency?

It is assumed.

You, as a citizen of the world always have a voice. You always have a right to express your thoughts, feelings, emotions and concerns. In fact, that’s an essential part of our democracy.

Democracies are built on the idea that the government and leadership only have power because we gave it to them.

All that said, very few have a duty to listen to you. You do not have a right to a stage, or a megaphone. Private industries have every right to ignore you but, you always have a right to speak.

So, how do you get your message heard? How do you exercise your own agency when you feel like you are ignored or harmed by a system or approach?

There are several tried and true methods. One, make the story simple enough for others to follow and repeat. Two, use concrete data. Three, ask the learners to repeat your message in their own words. Four, use multiple methods of communication (writing, music, video, etc.)

Of the things that our 4-H youth learn in Ohio, the greatest is the ability to share their stories and to learn how and when to use which skill to convey a message. In our digitizing world communication has become an essential skill that must transcend all content areas and permeate the entire system to ensure that we can question, advocate and accentuate the messages we receive.