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The worst thing that could happen is having someone being forced to volunteer. On the other hand if a child volunteered to go to a place that was inline with their career goal that would be a beautiful thing.
Yes, yes and yes. It is amazing how little some students know of the world and this gives them the opportunity to experience some of it. I have worked where community service can also be considered for attending local government meetings. I've seen students open up to the possiblities and what is happening after just a couple of hours
I'm an Electrical-Electronics Trades & Technology Instructor at the Kent Career Tech Center in Grand Rapids, MI. I'm also a past President of the Grand Rapids Jaycees and Parkinson's Association of West Michigan. I have also served on several other local, state and national non-profit organizations B.O.D.'s. Just talking to my students about my experiences in "giving back" has motivated my students beyond belief. Every year my students show me, my colleagues, and our local community, just how easily they can be motivated to "pay it forward". Their active participation in activities as diverse as lake/steam/river clean ups, assisting at local Special Olympics events, raising money, clothing and food for those less fortunate than themselves and volunteering at homeless shelters. I can't list all of the truly heartwarming stories from my students, but I do know that students today will rise beyond your expectations if you'll let them. Those of us servants in education know all the metaphors... "If you build it, they will come..." "Plant a seed and watch it grow..." I can honestly say, without reservation, that I believe ALL students will respond positively to the challenges that face their community. We just need to help them identify those challenges. Then give them the chance, and choice of their endeavor, to build a bridge and make a difference, in their (and our) future. Yes, we will no doubt have to “invest” a bit of ourselves into their efforts, but I can assure you, you will take away a multifold of what you invest. The long and short of this question for me isn’t whether community service should be mandatory, it’s more a question of: What’s holding you back?!
“It only takes one spark to start a fire…”
Thanks for your time!
First of all, community service does not have to be organized by the teachers. If it needs adult hands, the PTA could do it. They can also find their own volunteer work to do and the school should accept almost anything that is not strictly a religious activity. All the kids have to do is take the form to whatever organization they worked with. Second, if they do the project through the school, why would the teachers have to plan it? It is good hands-on learning. How hard is it do do an Operation Christmas Child box? Students should not have their learning spoonfed and they also should not have their community service requirements planned for them. They are not stupid. Even pre-Ks can pack groceries or supplies for the elderly. Our youngest volunteer for food bank was 4 when she started. The first year she helped wrap and give out the Toys for Tots. She also came with her parents on bagging night and helped pack the groceries. By the time we closed down she could have been a temporary manager. She was 11 by then.
In our quest to provide real-world situations to prepare our students to become productive members of our society, what better opportunity is offered than creating win-win school-community partnerships of volunteerism?
Library Media Specialist
Konawaena High School
Atlanta Public Schools has required community service for many years for both regular and special education. Students did a variety of tasks from volunteering in a day camp to assisting a neighbor. Many high school students did their service on their own over the summers and turned the paperwork into their homeroom teacher. Sometimes classes would do service projects. They had to do 100 hours between the 9th and 12th grades.
People tend to think of community service as middle class and wealthy kids helping the poor, but most of the Atlanta system was poor. Some schools were 100% free lunch. With poor kids, community service gives them an opportunity to give of themselves and help others. It helps them network, perhaps discover job opportunities and feel good about their ability to change the world. If they are getting started on the wrong track they can be turned around by service. Some of these kids came to our food bank where they were both volunteers and clients. Most of our volunteers were both and we accepted anyone willing to help.
Middle class and wealthy children often need the grounding that President and Michelle Obama are giving their children. Service reminds them that they have more than others and that they should be grateful but not arrogant about it. It shows them that there are many things more important than nice clothes and technology. It might lead them away from being a greedy CEO. Then if they are in a well paid and powerful position they would be more likely to pay their employees fairly and provide excellent benefits instead of sending the jobs overseas or contracting so they don't have to provide company benefits. We had a young man at food bank whose father was a successful business man. He came every month. Sometimes he brought friends. He also stood up for social justice causes in his school.
Community service is a reality check that can turn children around. Helping others makes them better people. Hopefully it would cross the socio-economic divided and put more people IN SERVICE WITH OTHERS RATHER THAN IN SERVICE TO OTHERS. There is a huge difference. I think community service should have been one of the requirements of No Child Left Behind. I would like to see students complete 500 hours between Pre-Kindergarten and grade 12 and the number of hours they have completed printed on their report cards.
I believe that all students should be required to perform community service. Not too many children will develop a service related ethic unless it is modeled to them by the adults in their life. Many students receive this instruction through scouting or churches, but many do not have such role models in their lives. There's a quote that I truly believe, "There is no higher religion than human service. To work for the common good is the greatest creed", by ALBERT SCHWEITZER. People that haven't had the satisfaction of doing good deeds for others are missing out on a rewarding experience. As a New York State Physics and Chemistry teacher I certainly feel the pressures of state testing, but I don't feel like I'm willing to allow that pressure to minimize my efforts to extend a quality, meaningful education to my students. On MLK day of service several of my students took part in a Buffalo service project. The looks of satisfaction on their faces as they told me about it certainly brought home the reason why we encourage, and yes require service hours every year at our school. None of them took it as a punishment or negative experience, they were excited about it and proud of their involvement. These are the experiences that shape the character of our young adults and I wholeheartedly believe they are worth the effort.
Christine Satory wrote, "As a college professor since 1985, I have directly dealt with the end result of all the various "improvements" in elementary and secondary education. From this experience I can tell you that these new requirements and pressure on assessment—testing, testing, testing— are a dismal failure. Students come to us already burnt out and emotionally stressed to the point that they believe that a B or C in a class means that they are an utter failure as a human being . . ."
Apparently, there is a wide variance in college students. I also teach at a college, a Midwestern private school. Our students are more often still children in their middle 20's. They appear to be planning on extending adolescence well into their 30s. I suspect this is the difference between top layer schools with strong science programs and liberal arts secondary facilities that cater to those who can’t (or who don’t try to) get into the top schools and more relevant programs. Not only are many of our students content with C or below grades, our administrators are happy to let them continue in our programs with sub-standard GPAs.
I don’t think there is a shortage of opportunities for slackers. I suspect that the suicide rates could be explained by other factors than community service requirements or high expectations.
I agree that students need to be encouraged to help in their communities, but too often they seem to be missing the point of volunteerism. I hear them saying things like,"I need to do my service project by such and such a date. What can I do quickly?" Somehow we need to teach our children that helping is part of what do in a community; they don't simply need to have a dogged drive to build a resume.
Giving back to the community implies that there is debt to the community at large- public education is free, but it's not a free ride. Nor should it be. Citizenship must be taught, modeled, and nurtured. Our future leaders will be poorly trained if we don't emphasize the importance of participation in a free society.
In response to Bryan Wilkins, yes, it is one more thing for us to do. But working with kids outside of school is less structured, and a lot more(dare I say it), fun! As a Red Kettle Bell-Ringer for 17+ years, I've never had a bad time. Working on clean-up projects is way more energizing than proctoring tests, hall monitoring, or some of the other brain-sucking tasks I do. So soldier on, comrades. If we don't teach community service, who will?