Service learning for students provides true education

March 22, 1997

I AM A SENIOR at Franklin High School in Baltimore County. I have completed my service learning and gone beyond the 75 hours requirement. Several things in your March 12 editorial, "Service learning's unintended lesson," distressed me greatly.

First of all, service learning is different from community service. It includes three parts: preparation, action and reflection.

Students must be taught something before they actually begin the work. Afterward, they must think about what the experience taught them. There are several forms that must be completed along the way. Menial labor, such as answering telephones does not count.

Second, the article made it seem like the only reason students ''developed a taste for community service'' was because they were required to volunteer. Students like myself would have volunteered, and did volunteer, without a requirement. You do not give us enough credit.

Third, the sub-headline saying, ''Schools that didn't take state requirement seriously must fix approach,'' is preposterous. I have been told about the service learning requirement since seventh grade.

Every year in high school, Catalina McHenry, the teacher in charge of service learning at Franklin, and the guidance counselors go around to each class to remind students of the requirement. They make themselves available to answer any questions, and even give out a list of places where you may volunteer.

If someone needs help finding a place to volunteer, many people are available to speak with. Several clubs and organizations, such as the National Honor Society, give members and non-members many opportunities to volunteer.

I am aware that not all schools do as much as Franklin has done, but schools and teachers cannot be blamed if students are too torpid to call, for instance, their local animal shelter. Do you also blame teachers when students decide on their own not to study for a test?

Until someone they know does not receive a diploma because they did not complete 75 hours of community service, some people will not take the requirement seriously, no matter how much schools publicize the requirement.

Carrie Weih

Glyndon

I am an eighth-grade student at Loch Raven Academy. I am disgusted with the editorial you wrote on student service learning (March 12, "Service learning's unintended lesson").

The part that upset me the most was when you wrote, ''Initial experience shows that it works as long as educators do their jobs and teach it.'' My teacher and many other teachers are doing their jobs teaching us to the best of their abilities.

Thirteen students from my class went to the Student Service Learning Conference at the Baltimore Convention Center on March 11.

There were many examples of teachers working with students and students doing their part to get their service hours.

It's a shame you weren't there, you could have learned a lot.

Amy Chalk

Towson

Pub Date: 3/22/97

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