Education isn't all about what you see... in fact it's often layer upon layer of planning, thinking, collaboration, redoing, failing and planning some more. Some of that is visible to students and parents, but often it's out of view. Regardless of whether or not something is visible or not, it's important to note that, as educators, we believe in the power of learning in all its forms. The excerpt below was shared by an ES teacher who is currently working on a service learning project involving food waste, linking it to data collection and analysis through mathematics. It is shared here with the hope that it sheds a small bit of light on the behind-the-scenes conversations and connections related to service learning...
Just sharing insights:
As he was answering questions, I figured out what was happening with the answers and questions.
- Kids were thinking about food waste from their perspective--food they don't eat.
- [The canteen vendor] was thinking about food waste from his preparation perspective--food he over makes that's not eaten.
He shared the math that happens on his side as he projects what he needs to make based on what kids have eaten; he shared that rice isn't wasted a lot because it only takes 10 minutes to prepare so they can keep preparing it as it is used so there's less waste, but vegetables are often wasted more on the prep side because they have to be made in advance so it's purely a guess based on history.
The kids were thinking that they get way too much rice and don't eat it so they were shocked that more wasn't wasted. That's when I realized that the two (kids versus the cafeteria vendor) were talking about different perspectives of food waste.
I thought it was interesting and wanted to share.
The beauty of service learning is that it's authentic. In so saying it allows us to challenge our own views toward a perceived "need". It allows students (and adults too) to engage in an investigation without knowing the answer, and sometimes without recognizing the connections. It is through the process that the power of service learning lies. In this case the connection was shared by the teacher involved. But students and vendors too make connections between perspectives, action plans, outcomes, successes and failures. It is in authentic learning moments like these that we can develop our "critical consciousness" and the fact that our perspective - as our life experience - is one of many and it's the totality that allows the deeper learning.
All great conversations, connections and learning!