My reflection paper on the above subject.
Emergence of Extension Science and its Principles
The emergence of extension science and its principles can be related to the growth of a person, from childhood to adulthood. A mother will tell her child what to do and the child will follow it because she knows better but as the child grows, he begins to questions the mother’s words. It’s the same in extension. The extension worker will tell the clients what to do, a top-down approach according to Roling (1988) and the client will do it because they lack knowledge but as the client develops (and because of other factors in the client’s environment), the client begins to question the extension worker’s advices or activities. The mother will then start to re-strategize and find another way to achieve her goals for her child. And this is the same with extension with the extension worker shifting to a much participatory way to help the clients achieve their goals.
Of course, the comparison can get more complicated when it is analyzed in every aspect since there is more than one factor affecting the relationship of mother and child, or of the extension worker and the client. But my point is that, extension science and it principles evolved through time because of interaction with clients and the change in clients and many factors in their environment, and also because of the learnings from the extension programs that were previously implemented. As Roling (1988) defined extension science, it refers to the “body of knowledge which accumulates experience and research findings with respect to extension, and borrows insights from other disciplines of endeavor which seem pertinent to extension”.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, there is a relationship between the mother and the child, and thus, between the extension worker and the client. Taking Vanclay’s “Social Principles for agricultural extension to assist in the promotion of NRM” (2004) into a wider context, extension has a social aspect because of the relationship and communication between the extension worker and the client. Further, regardless of the job of the client, the client’s job/source of income is a social practice because it allows him to interact with the society and many of its aspects e.g. economy, politics, etc. When talking about extension projects, I believe that an extension worker should be a sociable person but not just be amiable but someone who can also relate to the situation that the client is (putting oneself in other people’s shoes). It is only through understanding a person that an extension worker can hope to achieve the primary goal of extension which is to induce voluntary change in the behavior of the client. After all, Mosher (1974) said that extension, as a discipline deals with the behavior of people.