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Classroom Leadership Beyond Class Time Service Learning

Classroom Leadership Beyond Class Time Service Learning

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Published by: Cait Nolan on Jul 03, 2012
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3/4/09 2:14 PMClassroom Leadership:Beyond Class Time:Service-LearningPage 1 of 3http://www.ascd.org/publications/classroom_leadership/apr2001/Service-Learning.aspx
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 April 2001
 April 2001 | Volume
| Number 
Beyond Class Time
 An International Perspective
Kiran Cunningham
Here are a few things I've observed about internationalschools: these schools often stress the importance of educating their students to be global citizens. These schoolsalso tend to be concerned about nurturing their relationshipswith the local community.Here are a few things I know about service learning: there are many ways students canperform meaningful service to their communities. Service learning activities can alsobroaden a child's mind and build an appreciation for cultural diversity.From what I've observed and what I know, I believe that service learning programs can bea powerful tool for enhancing and enriching the educational experience offered byinternational schools.
Service Learning at Woodstock School
For one semester, I was a guest consultant on service learning at Woodstock School.Founded in 1854, Woodstock School is an international, co-educational, boarding schoolsituated in the Himalayas of Northern India. The school's academic program leads to anAmerican high school diploma, or certifications and external examinations recognized inIndia, the U.K., Europe, and elsewhere. With approximately 450 students from almost 30countries, Woodstock's trademark is delivering an education to young men and women ingrades K–12 who are called upon to function in a global context, as reflected in the school'smission statement:Through living and learning in this school community, which offers a rich andvaried program, Woodstock strives to nurture and inspire each young person tobe a globally aware and responsible citizen, committed to service to others andstewardship of the earth.In addition to a strong and multi-faceted academic curriculum, Woodstock has a strongstudent-run service program, called CARE, and an outdoor-education program. A full weekof the school year is designated as Activity Week, during which the entire student bodystudies for a week outside of the classroom, goes on historic and cultural tours, andperforms community service work. Although these are excellent educational opportunities inand of themselves, Woodstock's service-learning framework enriches their educationalvalue. The process also provides documentation of student involvement and growth in areasthat are often difficult to assess.For example, four of Woodstock's desired student outcomes are to buildAn awareness of cultural differences and global diversity.Skills and leadership ability.An understanding and appreciation of Indian culture and history.A commitment to the service of others in need.
Participation in experiential education activities can contribute dramatically to student growth ineach of these four areas.
That student growth is further enhanced through reflection. Woodstock has recentlydesigned a set of reflection instruments for middle school and high school students to use 
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when evaluating their participation in service activities, Activity Week trips, and otherexperiential education activities. These materials were designed so that the questions askedof students are directly related to the four relevant desired student outcomes. For example,to help students think about "commitment to service of others in need," they are asked toconsider the following:Visiting new places and encountering human and environmental problems oftenmakes us want to be involved in improving the living conditions of our fellowhumans and other living things. How has this experience influenced your beliefsabout the need to be involved in working toward solutions to social andenvironmental problems? Describe the kinds of social and environmental serviceyou could be involved in on a more regular basis.Student reflections on this question support the contention that service learning projects docontribute to students' sense of social responsibility."I learned that all people are the same," wrote one 7th grade student who wenton a hike. "It doesn't matter if they don't have hands or legs or eyes or mouths.It doesn't matter because they are people, and they have a heart like us.""I want to go on more CARE trips, and help people who are on the poverty line.People who really need our help should be helped," wrote an 11th grade student,who went on a cultural trip to the Tibetan refugee town of Dharamsala."I learned that doing social work not only benefits others, I learn from it as well,"concluded a 10th grader, who went on a social service trip to the slums of NewDelhi.These written reflections serve a double purpose: they promote and deepen students'commitment to service, and they provide documentation of student involvement and growthin this otherwise difficult-to-assess area.
Service Learning on a Global Scale
Service learning is a pedagogy that is really "taking off" in the United States, and itsbenefits for student learning are being experienced in all kinds of schools—K–12 andbeyond. Service learning has yet to become a regular practice in international schools, butit's an instructional approach that is especially well-suited to international contexts. If theexperience of Woodstock School is any indication, embedding service learning into theeducational program is a way to both deepen student learning and help students develop asense of social responsibility.
Service Learning: A Primer
Service learning is an approach to teaching and learning that helpsstudents develop a sense of social responsibility. Service learning is rootedin the belief that active participation in learning activities deepensunderstanding. It's also based on the premise that the desire to provideservice is driven by a deep, human need to be responsible for others.According to the National and Community Service Act of 1990, servicelearning:Helps students learn through active participation in thoughtfully-organized service experiences that meet actual community needs.Provides structured time for students to think, talk, or write aboutwhat the student did and saw during the service activity.Gives students opportunities to use newly acquired skills andknowledge in real-life situations in their own communities.Enhances what is taught in school by extending student learningbeyond the classroom and into the community.Helps develop a sense of caring for others.It's important to understand that service learning is not an "add-on," but away of achieving objectives differently. Incorporating service learning into acourse does not mean adding an additional component to the course, forexample. It means using a service project to give life to the conceptscentral to a course.In a physical education class, for instance, students could take on asemester-long project of painting and cleaning up houses in a nearby, run-down area. Through such a project, students would come to understandthe value of physical exercise, and learn firsthand how being physically fitcan prepare them to be active members of a community.In a health and nutrition class, students could organize and conductworkshops on an array of health-related topics for a community healthcenter. Subjects might include AIDS awareness, alcohol use and abuse,dangers of smoking, and the importance of prenatal care during pregnancy. 
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