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Reflection is Key to Service Learning

Learning comes about not only from doing, but from thinking about what we do. Our College strives to engage students in meaningful and authentic Service experiences or scenarios outside of daily routine. Through these experiences, new learning occurs.

Reflection then allows students to join the dots between their prior knowledge and what they see first-hand. Comparing, contrasting and questioning. This reflective process is the key to unlocking a deeper understanding of the plight of others and appreciate a broader range of issues that impact those living on the margins; it improves higher level thinking and problem solving, and students’ ability to learn from experience. And whilst students will inevitably ‘think about’ their experiences immediately afterwards, briefly considering what they saw, felt or heard; it is widely known that more intentional and explicit reflections guided by teachers and parents can have more lasting impacts.

A Service-Learning program differs to a Service program. At ATC, Service Learning involves observation, asking questions, and putting facts, ideas, and experiences together to derive new meaning and new knowledge. Knowledge that students will put to good use when they enter into adulthood with a spirit of Service. Consider Kolb’s definition of learning: the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience. The “transformation” is reflection. Through meaningful reflection, we are leading our students, your son’s, towards new “Ah-Ha Moments.”

As your son continues his Service-Learning journey for 2019, I encourage you to take the time on the drive home, or around the dinner table, to ask some questions about their experience. No doubt, some Service experiences are more ‘involved’ than others, with more issues to consider; however, even volunteering at a local school fete, or cleaning a storage room, or participating in a fun-run can be reflected upon, and thus learning can occur.

Some ideas to help kick-start your son’s reflections:

Why is there a need for your service?
What do you perceive as the underlying issue, and why does it exist?
What similarities do you perceive between you and the people you are serving?
How are you perceived by the people you are serving?
What do you think a typical day is like for the people you serve?
What pressures do they confront?
How does their situation have an impact on their life socially, educationally, politically, recreationally, etc.?
What stereotypes are you confronting about the people you serve? Have these stereotypes changed as a result of your experience?
Describe the people you met at the service site.
Name three things that stuck in your mind about the service experience.
Describe the atmosphere of the service site.
Describe some of your interactions.
What personal qualities (e.g. leadership, communication skills, compassion, etc.) have you developed through service-learning? In what ways do you anticipate these qualities will help you in the future? To help others in the future.

Share the Good News with Signum Fidei

Thank you for continuing to share the good news via our SIGNUM FIDEI email address. Should your son be involved in a Service initiative or activity, please let us know, we love hearing all about it and receiving photos. Not only is it wonderful to see our students supporting their communities, it also gives us ideas on how we can further help. So please keep them coming!

Andrew McCrohon
Service Program Coodinator