What Is It?
Service learning is a concrete example of experiential learning in which students take part in addressing, and hopefully solving, real-life
problems. Most schools that have a service learning program are in partnership with the school community or with the communities near the school. This is to provide students a venue where they can apply academic skills and knowledge in real life conditions.
Service learning can be implemented through the School Assistance Program and Community Immersion.
School Assistance Program
The school itself is a rich place where students can learn a lot about service learning. In some schools, providing assistance to the school is part of the students' requirement before graduation.
The School Assistance Program can be excuted in various ways depending on the school's needs and the school's willingness to accommodate students.
- The Professional Assistance Project: In this project the students will help out the teachers to do their tasks such as checking papers, making instructional materials or preparing visual aids. In this way, the students will be able to experience what teachers go through outside the classroom. This may also help in making students appreciate their instructors.
- School Improvement Program: The students will do a simple research on school problems or what the school can do to help social and environmental problems. For example, the students can do a research on how much their school spend on papers. Then they will brainstorm and propose possible solutions to minimize paper usage as a way of helping the the school budget and the environment.
- Fund Drive: Students will focus on a particular facility and will raise funds to improve or to acquire it. For example, a group of students will raise funds to help the school acquire LCD projectors. The students may collect recycable materials and sell them to raise money.
The advantage of the School Assistance Program is that the students get to serve their own school. They are familiar with the environment and it's within their sphere of understanding. On the other hand, this program will only be effective if implemented for a certain period of time.
This program is best suited if the school's goal for service learning is to expose students to the problems outside the school. Community immersion allows the students to mingle and get a first hand experience on how to be part of a larger community.
Community Immersion may be implemented in the following ways:
- Job Training: In this activity, the students will do the tasks of working people in the community. For example, students may do the jobs of shopkeepers, cashiers, guards and traffic enforcers for a certain period of time.
- Meeting Professionals: Meeting Professionals is a simplified version Job Training. Instead of acting out as workers, students will have the chance to interview professionals from different fields such as doctors, teachers and lawyers. Ideally, this should be done in their place of work. This can be done when there is only limited time.
- Outreach Programs: Outreach programs do not only pertain to helping orphans and the handicapped. These can also extend to the environment such as tree planting activities, rallies and talks about social causes, medical missions and response to calamities. These will allow the students to take part in the actual solution of social issues.
With the community immersion program, students will meet more people and will open their understanding about them. Schools that will do this for service leaning, must be in partnership with several groups.