Educational Editorial: Required community service in schools

By Dr. Bill Bosher, NBC12 Educational Specialist

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The high school graduates of the Richmond area, thousands of them, have now experienced standards and assessment for their entire school experience…especially if it has been in Virginia.

While the 1994-95 debates over the standards of learning were hotly contested, one initiative that was discussed and dismissed was "required community service."

Service learning, as it has been dubbed, is often required in private schools; however, the public push back has been around the seemingly inconsistent dichotomy in "required volunteerism." Some have even called it involuntary servitude.

Perhaps we need to think more about what the experience could teach young people.

It seems that we live in a society where schedules trump everything. Free time, free play, spontaneous games, and just good conversation are buried by the next event on the family blackberry or refrigerator calendar.

There is far less reflection on what we have just done and more on "what's next." And yes, the focus of the proverbial rat race is far too often "me."

While required is also a term that seems to lack flexibility, perhaps we should think more about the need to have young people experience the rewards and recognition of service.

I recently read of an effort to build an assisted living facility near a school simply so that the elderly could be energized by watching children play. When families are scattered and reunions are brief, let's teach young people that the greatest gift is still in giving….

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