Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Grade 6 Service Learning: The Gears are moving

ISKL is a dynamic place. In the classroom our students are exposed to hundreds of new concepts and ideas and theories and frameworks and discussions and, and, and... This 'buzz' however, continues even after they have gone home. It's the sound of a great school working on making education "exceptional". It was during those meetings that the idea of a service learning elective for grade six students was born.

16 students are taking service learning this trimester (and it's offered again next trimester as well).  I had the pleasure of joining the two classrooms last week as they deliberated what would be most appropriate fit for their interests, the needs of the community and the limitations given by the trimester. It needed to be authentic but also something that would allow them to have an impact. Conversations ebbed and flowed from issues of self esteem to waste to energy to respect for others to animal rights. Students had a number of questions for me - "where does our waste go?" or "why do we have so many plastic bottles?" - and the answers invariably led to more questions, slowly opening the door to the understanding of issues and their complexity. 

The power of conversation and analysis should not be lost here. Given time to deliberate, to discuss and to recognize the nature of addressing complex issues one can really see the learning clicking into high gear. The sixth graders have no lack of energy and they'll need it because they are ready to tackle the issues of nutrition, waste and energy use at Ampang!  Tall orders for 12 year olds but with such potential to be mini change makers.

I like to tell people that you can't build an NBA player by asking them to start playing basketball in college. Using the same logic, you can't expect kids to become change makers and future builders by asking them to understand theoretical constructs without also giving them the chance to put things into practice. I am not privy to the action plans of grade six yet, but given the depth of conversation and the interest of the students I am sure that they'll be great! 

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