Katy Faber who authored Non-Toxic Kids and Why Teachers Quit and How We Might Stop the Exodus has added another solution for the world's ills with her new book, Change the World with Service Learning.
"Service learning is a learning tool to empower students to solve problems in their own communities, or even globally. It is a student-driven process, where students learn about a particular issue, place, or problem, then figure out how to take action in a positive way. Then they actually do it." [emphasis mine] Katy goes on to tell how students do the research, make calls, write letters, and solve problems... ultimately sharing the outcome with their communities.
What business person wouldn't want to hire a kid who came to them with those skills? I told a friend recently that I wouldn't hire someone with a four year degree because they have no real-world skills even after four years!
And that's the point, service learning teaches a wide range of functional skills while at the same time instills empathy, compassion, and confidence. As a potential employer, I want that in my employee as well -- someone who doesn't have to be micro-managed because I know they'll make the right decisions.
And yet too many schools don't offer a program like this or if they do, it's as an elective afterthought. Katy is taking the stand that service learning needs to be an embedded part of public education.
A young neighbor of mine attends a school with "service days," a full day for the kids to go out into the community and help others. Each time she comes back from one of these experiences, you can see the change. Think about what kind of citizens we could grow if all schools carried the full program that Katy outlines in this book.
Katy's research has discovered that service learning can increase standardized test scores, improve GPA and attendance, reduce drop out rates, increase civic responsibility, create community connections and even (gasp) improve teen angst. Again, what's not to love.
This isn't an awareness book, however, this is a step-by-step workbook as the subtitled says showing how to organize, lead, and assess service learning projects.
Katy puts out a call-to-action to her teaching peers to get this program started in their schools. I would add that this is a program in which local businesses and non-profits should also read and partner with the schools.