Service-learning is an important way that all members of the A.B. Paterson College community can work together in, “developing young men and women of character – leaders now and for the future.”

An experiential learning pedagogy, Service-learning integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection, to enhance the learning experience and achieve identified outcomes (National Service-Learning Clearing House, 2013). Young people are perhaps our greatest resource, and through Service-learning, students learn real life skills, contribute to their communities and learn that they have a responsibility to serve their community. Integral to effective Service-learning is meeting genuine need. Thus, Service-learning connects three domains: cognitive (the head), affective (the heart) and behavioural (the hands) (Billig, 2004), to facilitate student growth and participation in their communities.

Through A.B. Paterson College’s Service-learning programme, students will understand the value of engagement with their community, local to global, and we hope they will contribute actively to making a meaningful difference in that community, whilst at school and beyond.

Service-learning complements A.B. Paterson College’s Teaching for Understanding approach to teaching and learning through:

  • promoting cognitive engagement and facilitating deeper understanding of community issues;
  • engaging students in real life learning through the application of knowledge and skills gained in and out of the classroom; 
  • having students contribute to their community through helping address community issues; and,
  • creating meaning through the process of reflection, a vital component of service-learning.

At A.B. Paterson College, Service-learning embraces the attainment of intended outcomes in the academic, pastoral and co-curricular curricula, for we aim to educate the whole student and have specific and intended outcomes in all these areas for our students. In this, the introductory year of Service-learning in the College, 21st Century skills have been an important component of our pilot projects.

We have a core team of staff, who have been learning about Service-learning themselves, and who are keen to see it flourish as a valuable pedagogy in the College. In the early stages of our plan for Service-learning, pilot projects this year have involved staff and students in a variety of curricular projects, including:

  • Prep students have undertaken a unit, Who Helps Me, Who Do I Help? designed to invite our youngest students to explore, through their literacy, arts and Circle lessons, who are the people in our community who help them, and ways to look beyond themselves, to helping others around them. Their culminating activity was composing The Helping Song.
  • Year 3 students have undertaken a unit, Friendship and Belonging, linking personal development and the Arts to learn about resilience and managing friendships. These students have recorded themselves reading a book about friendship and have choreographed a rap about how to address common friendship challenges, to share with younger members of the Junior School.
  • Year 7 students have undertaken an integrated project, learning about one of, Homelessness on the Gold Coast, Living Longer and Ageing, and Organisations Which Help Children Have the Best Quality of Life Possible. We have developed special partnerships with community organisations working in these areas, and our students have identified genuine needs, which will be the foci of their service.

Year 10 students have been visiting Wesley Mission Brisbane Youngcare Apartments at Coomera fortnightly, enjoying the company of the residents and learning about the challenges faced by the residents who live with disability. Our students have welcomed the residents into our community and look forward to visiting each fortnight.

Service-learning is reaching the hearts of our community, supporting the understanding of our students through real-life applications of their learning, and building positive relationships between students, staff and community partners. We look forward to the continued growth of Service-learning in our College.