Years 7 and 9 Service-learning

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, 'The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honourable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.'  This week in Social Emotional Learning Fundamentals (SELF) students in Years 7 and 9 were asked questions such as:    

What kind of world do I want to live in?

What can I do to influence the world in which I live?

As a young person, can I make an impact?

These stimulus questions introduced our students to their Term 4 Service-learning projects.  At the core of Service-learning, students are asked to use their head, hand and hearts to help others.  That is, how can I think about ways to assist others (head), what can I do to assist others (hand), how can I empathise with others in their time of need (heart)?

Cathryn Berger Kaye, a leading researcher in the field of Service-learning defines service as, contributing to or helping to benefit others for the common good. Berger Kaye extends her definition of service to that of service-learning which is a process of inquiry that involves five key stages to meet genuine need: 

1. Investigation

2. Planning and Preparation

3. Action

4. Reflection

5. Demonstration to meet genuine need

As part of their Service-learning projects, students have been asked to research community organisations such as: The Pyjama Foundation; RizeUp Australia; Animal Welfare League Queensland; Baby Give Back; Share the Dignity; Wildcare and Surfers Sunrise Rotary, to explore tangible actions that they can take to assist these partner organisations. Students in Year 7 also have the opportunity to raise awareness at the College regarding the societal issue of pollution and waste management, along with cooking for those in need, and extending our Community Garden.  

Integral to the success of the projects is the need to act. The beauty of Service-learning projects is that it is an opportunity for our students to hone the skills they learn in the classroom, for example, researching, problem solving and collaboration in a real-world context. Students have been reminded that their Service-learning projects are not hypothetical, they are planned, actioned and student driven. In the coming weeks, our community will hear a lot from our students regarding these projects as we aim to grow compassion in our students whilst looking at the broader picture of the need to influence the world in which they live. I look forward to parents and families assisting where they can.

Toni Kirton
Director of Positive Education and Leadership