Service and Education: an Unnecessary Compromise
by Nicole Acheampong on Friday, May 4th, 2012
Seminar Day and Community Service Day, which alternate yearly, have become Milton Academy traditions. During Seminar Day, students have the opportunity to listen to a host of different speakers, and the event usually sparks conversations that continue outside of the seminars themselves.
What I remember most about my first Seminar Day, freshman year, was the chance to interact with students of all grade levels in the Upper School as well as a few students from the middle school. This mixed environment provided a unique experience, and facilitated the sharing of ideas that is central to Seminar Day.
Community Service Day takes a different approach, separating students by advisory group and grade and dispatching them to service sites around Greater Boston. Despite the smaller groups, the actual service is rewarding and distinct in itself. Both days serve as excellent ways to guide Milton students out of the ‘bubble’ for a brief time in the spring.
Although Community Service Day and Seminar Day work well on their own, their cumulative effects may be restricted by the current, biannual format. In particular, the events of Seminar Day are quite separated from the rest of Milton Academy life. The chance to learn in seminar format about a diverse array of topics is only available twice in each student’s Milton career.
Learning about the world by hearing from leaders in many fields is a highly beneficial adjunct to any education. There is no reason why Seminar Day should not take place, in some adapted form, on a more regular basis.
While many students choose to partake in community service throughout their time at Milton, this path is optional and does require a substantial time commitment. The entire sophomore class begins the year with service, as part of Class Day. This experience is a great way to set the tone for the rest of the year and would have an even greater effect if the whole upper school partook on a yearly basis.
According to servicelearning.org, youths who participate in community service boast an “increased sense of self-efficacy” as well as a greater interest in academic achievement. Clearly, service is as beneficial for the participants as it is for the targeted community.
Seminar Day and Community Service Day offer separate and significant learning opportunities. For this reason, the current system of alternating between the two does not make the most sense; they are not interchangeable and therefore should stand alone.
Perhaps the school could consider hosting one of the two days in the fall and the other in the spring.
However Milton resolves the situation, we should take full advantage of educational opportunities that extend beyond our classroom curriculums. By simply making these two days more regular in our lives, we come closer to becoming a community educated not only as students but also as citizens.
Short URL: http://miltonmeasure.org/?p=3379