Service Learning vs. Community Service

What is Service Learning?  There is a distinction between community service and service learning.  The first means offering your services for a specific period of time, however nothing aside from time is involved.  

Service Learning, on the other hand, involves several steps.  The first is the preparation stage.   For example, if a student is going to volunteer his or her time with homeless child mentoring program, the first thing would be to research homelessness in the local area, surrounding areas, or even nationally.  The research stage allows the student to learn about the service he or she is going to provide.  The student would also need to understand what it means to be a mentor.

Next is the action stage.  This is the actual ‘doing’ of the service.  

Finally, there is a reflection piece.  This is arguably the most important part of the process.  Reflection is what assigns meaning to an action.  When a student reflects on something, they discover what something means to them, personally. This is how growth and change occurs in one’s thinking. 

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