Four weeks ago we learned in the early days of the FFA there were two competing creeds. Would you believe there were two creeds for agriculture teachers – sort of? The same person who wrote The Country Boy’s Creed (which was used by the FFA at one time), Edwin Osgood Grover, wrote The Teacher’s Creed in 1902. It is below.
In the literature of the 1900 -1920 era the above Creed was identified as “The Teacher’s Creed”, “A Teachers’ Creed,” “The School Teachers Creed,” and “Teachers Creed”. At times Edwin Osgood Grover was identified as the author but not always. It was common to see the creed with no attribution as to who the author was. The placement of the apostrophe in the title varied greatly.
“The Teacher’s Creed” was widely distributed. The Ohio Educational Monthly published “Teachers’ Creed” in the September 1906 issue along with articles about nature study in the schools. The 1910 North Carolina Manual for Teachers’ Institute featured it. The 1910 Montana Biennial Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction contained this Creed. At the meeting of the Mississippi Teacher’s Association in May of 1912 “The Teacher’s Creed” was on the program (there were also eight papers presented about teaching agriculture in a breakout session). The Journal of the National Education Association published the Creed in 1921. The 1922 Curriculum Guide for Springfield, Illinois School Teachers contain Grover’s creed but did not recognize him as the author. The 1923-24 State Teachers College Catalog of St. Cloud Minnesota prominently displayed The Teachers Creed on the 3rd page of the catalog. The 1924-25 version of the New Jersey Education Bulletin published “Teachers Creed” with no attribution of the author. Numerous other examples could be given.
It is very likely the early agriculture teachers were familiar with The Teachers’ Creed. The September 1913 issue of Rural Manhood featured the creed on the inside front cover. The facing article was “The Correlation of the School and Farm” which was written by B. M. Davis, a professor of Agricultural Education at the Ohio State Normal School at Miami University. This article was followed by one written by Liberty Hyde Baily of Cornell. Other articles in this publication focused on the country school, rural schools, and farm practices.
In searching for information about “The Teacher’s Creed” I found several references to the “Leonia Teachers Creed.” This creed appeared in several educational journals and documents in 1920 (New Jersey Education Bulletin, February 1920; The School News and Practical Educator, April 1920; Journal of Education – New England and National, September 16, 1920). It is printed below. While I am not 100 percent confident, I believe this creed originated with the Leonia School District in Leonia, New Jersey. The last statement is interesting.
One can find a variety of teacher creeds in the literature, but none were widely circulated like Grover’s “The Teacher’s Creed.”
The Agriculture Teachers Creed
The National Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association was established in 1948 at the AVA Convention in Milwaukee. In the NVATA history book, Professional Leadership and Service 1948-1973 (p. 50), it is stated that the NVATA Executive Committee “… recommended the approval of the vocational agriculture teachers Creed.” This was in 1951. No other details are given. Copies of the original creed and the current creed follow.
The Creed has been revised several times. Can you identify the changes by comparing the two versions of the creed without reading the next paragraph? There are six changes.
At some point in time:
- The wording of the first paragraph was changed from “I am a teacher of vocational agriculture …” to “I am a teacher of agricultural education…”
- The words “American agriculture” were inserted into paragraph two replacing “America”.
- In paragraph 5 “him” was replaced with “them”.
- The 6th paragraph was changed from “I will work for the advancement of vocational agriculture…” to “I will work for the advancement of agricultural education…”.
- The word “public” was dropped from the 7th paragraph which previously read “I realize that I am a part of the public school system.”
- The word “people” in the last paragraph was changed to “youth”.
I don’t know when the various changes were made. I do know the name of the organization was changed from the National Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association in 1997 to the National Association of Agricultural Educators.
If you haven’t read the Ag Teachers Creed lately you should. Not only should you read the creed, but you should also model it. In case you don’t have a copy of the creed you can download a copy from https://www.naae.org/whoweare/ag-teachers-creed.pdf. You might want to post it near your desk so that your students can be aware that agriculture teachers also have a creed; not just FFA members.
If you are a teacher educator (or even a high school teacher) you could teach an agricultural education history lesson by comparing the two creeds.
For example, you could point out that the wording in the first and sixth paragraphs changed from “vocational agriculture” to “agricultural education.” You could ask your students to speculate as to why the wording was changed and to see if they might be able to come up with a possible date as to when this change might have been made. Was it before or after these words were changed in the FFA emblem?
In the 5th paragraph, you could ask why “him” was replaced with “them.” That answer should be obvious, but it might be interesting to guess when this change occurred. I don’t know when it changed but would like to know. It might be later than we think. I can remember when the number of males in the graduate classes I taught became a distinct minority.
Why did we drop the word “public” when referencing school systems in the 7th paragraph? In North Carolina, we were one of the first states that advocated for having FFA chapters in private schools some 20 years ago. So, I wonder when this change was made.
In the last paragraph, why did we change “My love for people…” to “My love for youth…”? This past weekend I spoke to the Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers in Missouri. The Farm Bureau representative who picked me up at the airport (Robin Farmer) was a long-time agriculture teacher before working for the Farm Bureau. On the 90-minute drive to the convention site, he asked me lots of questions about the current state of agricultural education. A major concern he had centered around teaching adult classes. His perception was that agriculture teachers of today were not teaching adult classes like they formerly did. Does that explain why we changed “people” to “youth”? I don’t know but it is food for thought.
I am sure you might come up with a few more questions that could be asked about the two creeds.