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Old 01-30-2006, 12:17 AM   #16
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Originally posted by melon
Anyway, it takes all kinds of people in this world. To those who willfully volunteer and give service, you all do a job well done. But assuming that everyone likes (or is good at) community service is like assuming that all men are made to be soldiers (which is why the concept of the draft pisses me off). Or that all women are good at being housewives. I wish I had more time to explore my potential artistic or musical talents in school, but I was too busy doing the next pet politically correct project, in addition to my piles of homework (went to a private school that gave out more homework than I ever had in college). And for what? That's what I'd like to ask.
At the risk of sounding stupidly cheesy--what if you had been able to pursue community service in a form that actually let you apply your interest in the arts? Like something involving workshops for underprivileged kids, or some kind of public installation, or maybe being involved in putting together some kind of public interest documentary, or working with staff and residents of a shelter to design their website or something? What if your school had had some kind of mentoring dimension to this requirement, where an adult who knew you actively helped you choose and plan a program suited to your talents, capacities and interests?

The yeshiva I graduated from had a community service requirement too, and like WildHoney I personally was fortunate to secure an experience (tutoring illiterate adults) which made me realize I loved teaching and wasn't half as bad as I'd have imagined I would be at it. But I grant that I wouldn't have found the experience nearly as fulfilling if my choices had been limited to, say, visiting lonely senior citizens (I feel deeply for them, but it just isn't my forte) or helping out with chores at a battered women's shelter (a noble cause, but one which I simply don't have the emotional fortitude to handle).

You make a powerful point, though, about the problems implicit in regarding the value of community service requirements as a priori self-evident. I myself am not quite willing to give up on the whole idea so readily, but you've really given me some food for thought here, as I intend for my own kids to have a similarly positive experience to mine someday, whether their school ever requires it or not.

Note to A_W: the cover story on Time magazine this week is boys' sagging performance in education. Admittedly not a bastion of intellectually stimulating journalism, but they do decent enough feature stories, so you might want to give it a peek (I plan to myself, but who knows when) and maybe even share with us if what you find seems worthwhile.

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Old 01-30-2006, 01:59 AM   #17
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^ Oops, sorry, I meant Newsweek. All those subpar weekly news glossies blend together for me...

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Old 01-30-2006, 02:29 AM   #18
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Am I the only one who didn't work very hard in high school or do any volunteering?

And am I also the only one who remembers it was only a relatively few years (well, for me anyway) ago that all the articles were about how the schools and teachers catered to boys, especially in math and science courses, and the girls got left out?
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Old 01-30-2006, 07:38 AM   #19
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where i went to high school (i now coach there) there was a 20 hour community service requirement when i was a senior (1998). i believe it's up to 25 hours now. graduating senior classes range between 200 to 250 students from year to year. all community service hours had to be approved by your guidance counselor.

you had the option of finding something to do on your own (as long as it wasn't connected with any sort of religious association, god forbid we mix church and state) or you could have the hours assigned for you.

i hooked up with the local youth sports organization to coach an 8th and 9th grade basketball team... between that and big brother/big sister, i knocked the hours out in no time. but friends of mine who couldn't find enough hours on their own had to then get hours assigned to them, which would go through the red cross, which would assign them to some state run organization where they would work side by side with paid employees who have gotten the art of doing just enough to not get fired down to a science... where the "volunteers" would of course end up doing the majority of the work that the paid employees should get done but don't.

there in lies the problems that melon was discussing. are they really helping the community by doing a job that a paid employee is too lazy to do themselves?

i have no problem with making community service a requirement... but unless the school can assure that each and every student has some sort of meaningful service activity to do, then they're baisicly just wasting everybody's time.
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Old 01-30-2006, 09:58 AM   #20
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Originally posted by WildHoneyAlways
Here is a link to my high school's handbook on community service if anyone is interested. I see that now they have added a research option for those who feel burdened by helping those less fortunate/the community.
Have we really asked ourselves "why include a requirement of community service?" If we are truly faced with large percentages of high school graduates who are incapable of completing moderately complex tasks (such as calculating 15% of a number, or balancing a check book) why do we fill curriculum with poorly defined community service projects?

It is clear from the comments in this thread that there is a divergence in what the projects should encompass or achieve.
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Old 01-30-2006, 10:20 AM   #21
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At my high school, there is a 100 hour community service requirement to be completed by graduation. Many(including myself) reach that goal before graduation and exceed it. Also, we must do something senior year called a Social Justice project. We have to pick an issue, research it, and go out and volunteer on that subject. I don't know what the community service requirement is for that school, but I'm assuming it's not 100 hours in 4 years. If I can complete 100+ hours, this kid should be able to do his community service.

This editorial about this was in the Sunday Globe.
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Old 01-30-2006, 11:35 AM   #22
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I would think that some students would be pissed off about the community service requirements because it waters down the college applications. In my high school, it was the super achievers that did community service to get them into a college of their choice. If everyone does service, suddenly the super achiervers don't stand out as much and weakening their application to Harvard.

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