Social change through Michigan 4-H Guiding Principles — Part 1: Consciousness of self

Learn how the principles of 4-H relate to consciousness of self.

Youth members of the 4-H Capitol Experience Steering Committee at their annual facilitator’s training.
Youth members of the 4-H Capitol Experience Steering Committee at their annual facilitator’s training.

In the first article of this series, “Introduction to the Social Change Model for Leadership Development,” we introduced the seven C’s that help frame the Social Change Model of Leadership Development from three different levels: individual values, group values and societal or community values. This next set of articles will further explain each of the seven C’s, how it fits with the Michigan 4-H Guiding Principles and share some Michigan 4-H examples of programming, activities or probing questions you could exercise to engage youth in the Social Change Model of Leadership Development.

To learn more about the Social Change Model of Leadership Development and the seven C’s, check out “A Social Change Model of Leadership Development” by the Higher Education Research Institute.

The first three C’s of the model—consciousness of self, congruence and commitment—are specifically related to individual values. Let’s discuss consciousness of self as it relates to the Michigan 4-H guiding principles.

The first step to enact change must be to recognize one’s self-worth. This awareness and valuing of self helps us understand what drives us to work toward social change. We must each be aware of our own beliefs, values, attitudes and emotions that motivate us. A person cannot change anything until they understand themselves enough to know what they want to change and why. This understanding is the first C of the Social Change Model for Leadership Development: consciousness of self.

Consciousness of self is directly tied to the third Michigan 4-H Guiding Principle: Youth are actively engaged in their own development. Michigan 4-H defines this principle as a process of identity discovery and awareness that helps youth increase their personal competence and sense of well-being.

Some general elements of effectively practicing this guiding principle and helping youth develop the first C of the SCM:

  • Creation of opportunities and experiences that allow participants the space to explore, discuss and reflect on their values, interests and strengths.
  • These opportunities for exploration, discussion and reflection are facilitated in purposeful, meaningful ways.
  • Exploration, discussion and reflection foster positive sense of purpose and drive for the construction of a better future.
  • Youth are acknowledged for their “self-work” and their self-discoveries are valued and integrated into future learning experiences.

There are many ways Michigan 4-H helps youth develop a consciousness of self to actively engage in their own development. The 4-H program inherently connects to critical self-reflection, for we cannot improve our best if we don’t take time to think about our expectations, roles, skills and opportunities for personal growth.

Self-reflection is a skill just like any other; it takes practice. As a part of leadership programming, Michigan 4-H offers facilitated trainings on self-reflection and action planning.

Another great example of the overlap between this Michigan 4-H guiding principle and the Social Change Model of Leadership Development is the intentional creation of space for youth to share in the responsibilities and consequences (both positive and negative) of statewide event planning.

Through youth-adult partnerships, Michigan 4-H statewide programs such as 4-H Capitol Experience are planned and facilitated by adults and youth. Youth voices (ideas, concerns, etc.) are valued equally at the decision-making table, and 4-H staff work to provide skill development, trust-building and reflection opportunities that help teens build their consciousness of self.

To learn about the positive impact of Michigan 4-H youth leadership, citizenship and service and global and cultural education programs, read our 2016 Impact Report: “Developing Civically Engaged Leaders.” Additional impact reports, highlighting even more ways Michigan State University Extension and Michigan 4-H have positively impacted individuals and communities in 2016, can be downloaded from the MSU Extension website.

Other articles in series

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