Community service can often be a pain in the butt. Opportunities are hard to find, and filling out the paperwork can seem like a waste of time. Of course, students are happy to help those in need, but just how is community service furthering their education? The Newport Mesa School Board is looking for a way to address this issue, and link education and outreach. They call it service learning
“Service learning is a teaching and learning methodology that connects classroom curriculum with identified community issues and needs” board member Karen Yelsey explained. It engages students in projects that serve the community and build their social and academic capacities. Students will be exposed to new concepts in learning and will develop a stronger sense of social responsibility and civic awareness.
As part of service learning, students may have to analyze how their community service relates to different school subjects. This extra requirement may cause students to complete the bare minimum requirement of service hours and avoid excess paperwork. But on the other hand, it could help students apply the skills they acquire in the classroom to real-life situations.
Vanderbilt University’s Center for Teaching website lists website six different general models of community engagement.
One of them is the discipline-based model, which requires students to use what they are learning in school to analyze what they did for the community.
Another, the problem-based model, teaches students skills that they will then use to help communities with a problem.
“For example: architecture students might design a park; business students might develop a web site.” explained Joe Bandy, Assistant Director of Vanderbilt’s Center for Teaching.
The NMUSD school board will hold a vote on integrating service learning into Corona del Mar High School’s community service requirements at one of their upcoming monthly meetings. If the board members vote in favor of the new service learning, it will become a requirement in the 2016-17 school year. The jury is still out. Literally.
“Since no decisions have been made, I can’t tell you whether this would replace traditional community service or augment it. The discussion will take place in the coming months,” said Yelsey.
Some students, however, don’t love the idea of the possible change. Freshman Aria Taghavi worries that service learning will make his community service hours less rewarding.
“I think that service learning should not happen because it would be less enjoyable. I believe that you would do less hours trying to understand how what you do relates to class,” said Taghavi.
Many students do community service not only because it is required, but because they feel good knowing they are helping their community. The extra work may drive students away from serving extra hours.
Service learning opens up more academic and social opportunities. By knowing how to connect society to classwork, students will have a better chance at getting jobs in the future.
Service learning has its pros and cons, but whether it is integrated or not, the importance of community service remains the same.