Monday, June 15, 2009

Community Service and Other Silliness

Over at Joanne Jacobs, there was mention of mandatory volunteerism that was "infused" into the curriculum so kids didn't actually do anything to earn the Service Learning hours.

Yeah. You read that right. "Oxymoron-squared" was tossed around.

A commenter, Peter Wood, said
"At the National Association of Scholars we have noted this kind of mandatory “volunteering” several times. Students have an apt name for it: voluntyranny. We wrote about it here."
Isn't that so true? Why is Community Service mandatory in the first place?

Help me out here:
  1. If you volunteer at church, it's not volunteering and the time doesn't count.
  2. If you sullenly carry boxes at the food bank, that's somehow better?
  3. Showing up at the FireHouse and being a pain in the buttocks for two hours benefits who, exactly?
  4. Why does running the Blood Drive with the rest of the Student Council count if donating blood doesn't?
  5. If you lie about the time spent and your friend covers for you, what lesson are we really teaching?
  6. If you are a senior and you can't graduate without the Senior Law class (and CS is part of the credit), are you really volunteering?
I want kids to volunteer and I think that helping others is a good thing. It needs to happen at the right time and for the right reasons for it to be meaningful, though. Perhaps banning all mention of it from college applications would be a good start.

1 comment:

  1. "Voluntyrrany". I'm going to borrow that! Our oldest son was in the first graduating class in our school district that was subjected to this graduation requirement. I can tell you, he put it off until the last minute, forced himself to learn to knit squares for afghans for homeless people, and detested every minute of it. He put in the bare minimum of time required. It is not exactly what I would call a shining example of altruism.

    OTOH, I have seen him help an elderly neighbor with yard work without being asked. That would not have counted toward the graduation goal, but was much more rewarding for all involved.