I don't think schools should require students to complete a specified amount of community service in order to graduate. My understanding of required service is community outreach that is attained outside of the regular school hours on a student's individual basis. Service is most definitely beneficial in preparing students to become productive members of society, however, I feel forced community service is missing the point. If we make our kids help others it won't be from the heart. And if they feel it is a chore they will be less likely to see the rewards of helping others. In my opinion mandatory community service should be reserved for felons only. I believe there is a better plan: service learning.
According to the Kids for Community website, service learning is a "teaching method that combines community service with classroom instruction." In other words, community service is incorporated into academics rather than being a mandatory requirement apart from everything else in school; service becomes part of the core curriculum rather than the extra curriculum.
As part of each required class, students take the knowledge gained in school and apply it to helping others. In a health class, for example, students may run a community health clinic for a week.
There are many advantages to service learning. Former senator John Glenn, now the chairman of the National Commission on Service-Learning, mentions just a few of the benefits of this approach, stating:
It greatly enhances students' academic skills, fosters a lifelong commitment to civic participation, significantly sharpens the so-called 'people skills,' and, perhaps most importantly for our nation, prepares youth to enter and mesh with what almost surely is the most diversified work force in the history of the world.
The academic advantage to service-learners is no joke. Studies have shown that more students...