Sunday, March 6, 2011

Service or Service Learning?

"Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, and working together is success." ~Henry Ford

Our students were recently asked to stuff, address, and stamp envelopes for the local Rotary Club's annual fundraiser.  We gladly did it as the Rotary Club does so much for our school.  While it wasn't rocket science, we were impressed with the way they organized themselves and created a smooth assembly line to accomplish the task.

While this diverse group of students was working we asked, "Is this service or service learning?"  They immediately defined it as 'service learning' because they were learning teamwork and how to get along with each other.  Frankly, this answer surprised us.  As the work continued, they began wondering how much they could get to do this type of work in the real world and discussing how long they could stand to do this type of work.  One student decided that this little project was enough to make him want to go to college----so he could be the one telling someone else to stuff, address, and lick all these envelopes.

While there were no specific curriculum standards being addressed, students were learning valuable life lessons.  No, this doesn't qualify as properly-defined service learning; nevertheless, taking a little time to help the community, figuring out how to get things done efficiently, and discovering a career path you may or may not be interested in qualify as time well spent.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tennessee Conference on Volunteerism and Service

Great conference.  Great contacts.  Not-so-great statistic:  Tennessee ranks 31st* in the list of states whose citizens volunteer for service organizations and projects.  Hello, Volunteer State.  We can do better.

*I would suggest that the amazing hours of volunteer work put in during last year's flood have not been counted.  In fact, Nashville's Mayor Karl Dean's keynote address was praising the amazing volunteer spirit he saw in throughout the city and state during the "100 Year Flood" of 2010.  Even the inmates volunteered to help (see article in USA Today).