In previous articles, I have already mentioned Service Learning (SL) as a methodology that I truly admire. I will let you know why in this little introduction to the methodology, summed up in twenty ideas related to it:
- Service Learning is a branch, an extension or, if I may say, a development of Project Based Learning (PBL).
- Service Learning frequently interacts with the local community.
- Service Learning is a social project in which the students try to solve or improve a need detected in their surroundings.
- It could also be another kind of social work, for instance on a larger scale, devoted to a different community or even to a different country.
- Normally, the project is undertaken to help people at risk of poverty or of social exclusion.
- The students could be the ones detecting the need around them as well as the ones proposing ideas for potential projects
- The final product always implies an improvement in other people's lives.
- There is a real benefit from the project. The students feel the practical use of their learning and effort.
- The students' motivation is at its highest point.
- They discover the personal feeling and reward of helping others.
- This is connected with the maturing of our students’ soft skills and their global competence, recently incorporated by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development).
- As in any other project, group work, organisation and cooperation are fundamental.
- Linguistic and communicative competences are also developed.
- As in Project Based Learning, different subjects can be, and actually should be, involved.
- Therefore, collaboration among teachers is needed.
- In this case, we also need collaboration with third parties, outside the school.
- The students’ commitment is very high, since they are working for others and they have to accomplish deadlines and objectives.
- As with PBL, you should start in a graded way.
- You can start with small projects within your school, for instance: older students helping younger ones.
- Check on the internet for examples and ideas for starting in SL.
Don't hesitate to do so.
Service Learning is the right path to follow in Education. One step further than Project Based Learning, incorporating empathy, diversity and caring.
Go for it!
Ingrid Mosquera, PhD.