Service Learning – What is it?

To help you understand the why and how of what we are doing, here is some Educational News on Reflective and Contemplative Service Learning, this past year 1 by 1 has used the National Service Learning Clearinghouse definition of Service Learning as its guide. Simply stated:

  1. Service Learning is a teaching method that young people use in solving problems within their schools and communities as part of their academic studies.
  2. Service Learning helps student’s master important curriculum content by supporting their making meaningful connections between what they are studying and its many applications.
  3. Service Learning also helps young people develop a range of service skills, from acts of kindness and caring, to community stewardship, to civic action.

Using examples the Clearinghouse defines what Service Learning is and is not:

  • Picking up trash around a river bank is service.
  • Studying water samples under a microscope is learning.
  • When students collect and analyze water samples and the local pollution control agency uses the findings to clear up a river. That is Service Learning

This past year, 1 by 1 has engaged the Immokalee High School and to some extent Ave Maria University with their desire to create service learning opportunities in Immokalee and eventually institutionalize the process by imbedding service learning in the curriculum. State Farm Youth Advisory Board (YAB) supports service learning as a component of the YAB grant process and 1by1 has clearly demonstrated service learning in this year’s food production project with hopes to expand on that experience next year with the YAB Environmental Responsibility grant.

David Kolb defined Experiential Learning with his famous diagram

The focus next year, as this year, will be on attitudes, behaviors and values. So it is timely to examine the new trends of reflection and contemplation in service learning.
Conventional educational learning theory traditionally has used Blooms Taxonomy: The Cognitive, Affective and Psychomotor Domains to determine how to classify learning. Most learning in schools focuses on the mind (cognitive) for learning, going back to Descartes -“Cognito ergo sum- I think therefore I am” but today’s service learning advocates call that mindlessness because all that is learned are order and facts. They propose more “Reflective and Contemplative “service learning and lean heavily on experiential learning theory since service learning requires more experiences in learning or what some call mindfulness.

Education philosopher John Dewey had long proposed that US schools should focus on both the mind and body. Modern education philosophers, like Trae Stewart want to go beyond Dewey and Kolb to “open up” service learning that calls for mind, spirit and body to achieve Reflective and Contemplative Service Learning. Stewart enhances Kolb’s model by liken it to a bicycle wheel with the spokes as “Introspection(s)” and the hub as the “Soul”. While most of the modern writers lean on eastern religious philosophies the opportunity to consider the spirit reminds some from Ave Maria of the Jesuit Spirituality exercise: “Contemplation is more about feeling than thinking. Contemplation often stirs the emotions and enkindles deep desires. In contemplation, we rely on our imaginations to place ourselves in a setting from the Gospels or in a scene proposed by Ignatius. We pray with Scripture. We do not study it.”
While 1by 1 does not advocate a religious exercise as a requirement of participation in its mentoring efforts, it can and will help Immokalee High School apply Reflective and Contemplative Service Learning through the YAB Environmental Responsibility grant next school year by structuring experiences around the Lake Trafford Water Study and Solar Lamp/Renewable Energy exercises and relate the application to mind, spirit and body. The solar lamp exercise for example gives them the opportunity to learn about alternative energy, help their ethnic counterparts in Haiti and Latin America and experience the joy of doing scientific experiments that help them and their community be better stewards of the environment. That deeper learning we believe will help create healthy and sustainable change in Immokalee. Being a light for a new way of doing business is just part of the opportunity.
The grant will also allow for more interaction with Ave Maria University, Florida Gulf Coast University, Collier County Extension, the Conservancy, Seminole Tribe, UF Agricultural Research Center, CREW, Big Cyprus Water Basin and many other community organizations that will contribute and benefit from the process. Immokalee is a great venue to focus on the spirit, mind and body as an incubator for learning how to address the world’s major issues. There is a new way of doing business and you can be part of it.

Sinclaire Williams

Sinclair Williams
Sinclaire Williams

Sinclaire Williams began working with 1 By 1 Leadership Foundation in 2004.

He has worked on many strategies to engage the youth, from a personal mentor, to running projects such as

In addition, Williams has been instrumental assisting other partners in launching programs.

Williams background includes.