At Kitchen Table Math, blogger SteveH finds himself irritated by the community service requirement at his son’s high school, and its heavy-handedness. His son was asked to play piano at a meeting by a teacher who offered him “a letter of community service” for his trouble. “My first reaction was irritation. My son would (should) make the decision without that carrot dangling in front of him,” he writes. “I don’t want my son always looking for an angle or for something to go on his resume.”
Comments on the blog from other parents offer a glimpse of just how common “service learning” has become. Student Service Learning is a high school graduation requirement in Maryland, one parent notes. Another points out community service is part of the International Baccalaureate program. Then there’s this mom’s novel response to an assignment requiring each child to “choose a public activity to raise awareness” of an environmental problem:
We (yes, we, these are projects that require massive amounts of parental energy) chose “global dimming.” (My kids’ dad joked that there seems to be a lot of that happening in education these days.) For our public activity we decided to make a sign “Stop Global Dimming” and stand on a busy street corner (right next to “The End is Near Guy”–no, not really but I wish he had been there!). It was quite an experience although not necessarily what the teacher was looking for I suppose…I’m just glad we didn’t get locked up.
SteveH remarks all of this compulsory volunteerism makes him feel like Oliver North’s lawyer Brendan Sullivan, who famously quipped ”I’m not a potted plant. I’m here as the lawyer. That’s my job” when members of Congress complained he was objecting too much to their questions.
“That’s how I feel,” he writes. “I’m not a potted plant. I’m here as the parent. That’s my job.”