Building Effective Service Learning Programs in Local Communities

1387 Words6 Pages
Kids these days have a bad rap. Adults who don’t regularly interact with high school students may only see the negative side of the adolescents in their community. In fact, “sixty-one percent of American adults are convinced that today’s youth face a crisis in their values and morals, look at teenagers with misgiving and view them as undisciplined, disrespectful, and unfriendly” (Latham, 2003). One way to help change the attitudes of adults and also encourage youth personal development is service learning programs in local communities. By participating in service learning programs, students learn how to navigate group dynamics, diversify their peer group to include adults and people from different backgrounds and begin to feel a sense of…show more content…
(Middleton & Kelly, 1996). One of the biggest issues stems from a lack of facilitation on the larger social issues involved with community service. When there is a proper forum to discuss the experiences they receive while volunteering, students are given a chance to understand how policies and civic involvement play a direct role in the lives of people in their communities. (Lakin & Mahoney, 2006). Another issue is content involved in the community service activities. “If teenagers are thrust into a volunteer situation they don’t understand or feel that they are simply being assigned made-up work, it can actually have a detrimental effect” (Tugend, 2010). One way to make the most of volunteer opportunities is to specifically design the content around areas of student development. By focusing on key content areas, students learn how to use their current skill set to navigate new experiences and difficult situations. (Lakin & Mahoney, 2006). A well organized and thoughtful volunteer opportunity has proven time and time again to be a positive experience for youth. There are many studies that discuss the character building benefits of service learning. Students who participate have higher academic achievements, develop critical thinking, problem solving, decision making, planning and organizing skills and expand their social circles. A student who volunteers is more likely to volunteer and vote as adult. (Latham, 2003). “There are several
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