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March 10, 2011

Change the World with Service Learning

Screen shot 2011-03-10 at 1.22.59 PM 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. 



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hey friends,
hanks for sharing wonderful thought with us....
great going keep it up.......

As an educator I feel insulted by this statement: "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!"

My guess is that you wouldn't hire a person WITHOUT it, either. Schools and colleges carefully determine what is necessary to prepare someone for a career. Each job is unique and additional training must happen there as well. But it's unfair--even a lie--to say that people coming out of degree programs have no skills. What is wrong with you?

Skabetti - Thanks for your comment. I'm sorry to have offended you. I am a small business owner and as such must hire people who can wear lots of hats, have common sense, and come with the social media skills required for modern communication.

I made that comment after looking at my own college's program of which social media isn't in the curriculum until post grad level. It also still lacks the very things I had to learn on my own after college, i.e. sales skills, public speaking, accounting, marketing, graphic arts, contract law - the basics of business. They are there, but not at the depth that a four year degree should provide. For example Toastmasters does a better job at teaching public speaking.

Service training cross-trains the brain for business or non-profit work. That was the point of this post.
I'm very pragmatic when it comes to business education.

Great Idea, Thanks fro sharing these lovely information...

Small acts with huge effects. Helping one another can make a big difference.

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