Why We Still Need to Learn about Service (and how JUMP! is Continuing to Learn!)
Written by Claire Bennett, JUMP! Senior Facilitator
JUMP! has been supporting international schools to develop and deliver their service learning programs for a number years, and yet still for many of us it is an area in which there are more questions than answers. How can we ensure that an experience is both meaningful for our students and for the communities we aim to ‘serve’? How do we create a project that is possible for our students to participate in and isn’t surface-level or tokenistic? How do we introduce students to the complexity and nuances of the issue without disempowering them?
These are frequently-discussed issues at JUMP!, and unfortunately not ones that lend themselves to easy tick-box answers. During my time as a JUMP! facilitator, I have participated in a number of debates with partners, teachers, and colleagues about how to improve the impact of service learning on both the students and ‘beneficiaries’. A common theme has been that we need to emphasize the learning part of service learning, so students can be effective and responsive in how they contribute, but more importantly, so they can continue to apply what they have learned to action they take in the future. JUMP! has found that the best service programs don’t shy away from addressing the complexities of service, but actively weave in ways of exploring the issues and asking the big ‘no-right-answer’ questions, in order to enhance student learning.
One of the many hats I wear when not facilitating with JUMP! is as a member of an advocacy group called Learning Service. It aims to reframe the conversation around international service in order to emphasize that learning needs to take place before and throughout a service experience, and we are developing a series of tools exploring the topic for use by individuals, educators and service organizations.
We just launched a video campaign with tips and advice on responsible international service, exploring many of the issues we have been discussing in JUMP! There are 6 videos and the first 5 are already here, so please check them out:
Alongside the campaign, we are also launching a competition with the chance to win some great prizes. We would love for you to watch and share the videos, enter the competition, and help us start a global conversation!