School will be starting up soon and I'm excited. In fact, I will be teaching a group of students for a week before the official start. A sort of jump start, helping a score of kids make the transition from elementary to middle school.
I am interested in service learning. I have had several projects which encourage kids to see real world problems, discover real world solutions, and make connections to their community.
Service learning is distinguished from community service in that it is a teaching strategy, not just a student activity. We are making connections between curriculum and the community. Kids need to feel they are apart of their community as they learn how to read, write, understand maps and charts and math and all the other elements of their education.
My wife and I used to watch Little House on the Prairie regularly. Aside from stories about family, faith, and community, it showed kids being a part of their running their farm, connected to their neighbors and friends in tangible ways.
There was a time when kids had clear roles in their society. They did what work they could do, from collecting eggs to helping Pa with the plowing, they pulled their weight.
Today kids haven’t such clear roles. Many fall into believing that a childhood is what they are about. Oh, and school... that too.
Service learning is getting kids involved in filling community needs while they learn lessons of researching, writing, math, and science.
The idea of service has changed over time.
We demand service from merchants. We need this product, or assistance with that, or dang it, shorter lines at the check out counter. I notice the demanding attitude of my fellow shoppers. An arrogant demander of services is an embarrassing role for someone to take. Not when we are really eternal beings created by a humble king.
I often see parents who are demanding more for their children (which is sometimes the right thing to do, sometimes it isn’t). I once had a parent come in with a lawyer and tell me I planted evidence of her child littering to give the student a lunch detention, just to be mean. A lawyer!
The primary goal is for students to learn. The secondary goal is in creating the connection between students and their communities.
There are a lot of negative connotations about service. There’s community service, often court mandated, or just something to be plugged in a resume. Sub-servience roles are held as low status positions, butlers and maids and gardeners and handymen. Hierarchy of authority. Echoes of bondage and slavery.
Nothing wrong in serving.
God serves Man.
"He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." Colossians 1:17
He has arranged the universe so that prayer moves His hand.
"Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." James 5:14-16
Jesus, my Lord, was the servant to those he met... kneeling in the dirt to help the fallen, washing feet, preparing meals... even to the point of offering...
"He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth." Acts 8:32
He is a being of service.
I see helping students to see themselves as part of a community, as citizens who offer service to those in need, as a way of promoting the underlying principles of my faith.
I have many projects in mind this year. Projects which will connect children to our community, and in learning to solve the problems, move the barriers, avoid the obstacles, they will learn about research and writing and math and geography and science. They will see that learning is not what happens in a classroom but is the natural path of mental growth for all people of any age.
There is another aspect of serving which is good for people, at least it has been good for me.
A few years ago my pastor spoke about service and I realized that if God Himself could serve us, could hold the universe together so we may have a place to make our own choices, even to reject Him, then who am I to see serving as beneath me?
When I am asked to do something I try to see if I can do it. Period. I quickly assess if it interferes with what is good for my family, my wife, my children, and if it doesn't, I do it without complaint.
So there you have it. That is the reason behind the second part of my online moniker. I am Curious Servant because that is what He made me to be. I want to be of service.
This blog has various purposes. It permits me to think through the struggles in my life, to explore the challenges I face.
But I like to think it is also about helping others. That includes you. Yes, you who are reading this post from perhaps a half a world away.
What is it you need? Do you need prayer? Do you need help in some way?
I belong to my Lord, but I am your servant as well.