Beyond 40: The OSSD and the Importance of Active Citizenship and Collaboration

Community

Who says that traffic is a waste of time, obviously doesn’t listen to Metro Morning  – sorry for the plug but based on today’s interview with academic and community service provider Hoda Farahmandpour the program deserves a footnote.

Interviewed for your Master thesis entitled “Beyond 40 Hours: Meaningful Community Service and High Student School Volunteerism in Ontario,” Hoda spoke with transparency about her experience in working with high school students who require to complete 40 hours of community service to receive their Ontario School Secondary Diploma. Instituted under the contentious days of Mike Harris, the goal of the service hours was to ensure that Ontario graduates are active community members – able to collaborate and engage professionally within a setting that may be unknown to them. This goal, as Hoda notes in her thesis is optimistic but has the potential to hinder the authentic experience of volunteering as it is mandated.  Within the framework of the volunteer experience, it is important to note that real world collaboration is a topical issue – noteworthy both in terms of student learning but also active citizenship.

With focusing on the typical classroom experience it is important to provide ongoing collaboration in student learning – not merely to push forward curriculum but more importantly to ensure that today’s students can actively build and sustain working relationships to reach common goals and outcomes. Whether within a school setting or as a team of line cooks hustling in a kitchen, collaboration and active citizenship (maturity, respect, work ethic etc) are important social and learning fluencies. So, what is collaboration in the classroom? Yes, it is group work, it is problem solving as a whole and yes it is moving forward as a collective to achieve a tangible outcome. However, how is collaboration facilitated by the teacher? What does collaboration look like? Are students taught to collaborate – to be active citizens in their classroom? Or is the process of collaboration like that of volunteering forced upon without a true sense of meaning or engagement.

With all of this volunteering and collaboration (as one entity) needs to live as part of the student experience in a real way – and taught. Students need to be taught to how to collaborate and how to move forward to active citizenship.

It is a big challenge and Hoda’s writing may push open many conversations about the overarching importance of collaboration and active citizenship in a world that is very much fragmented.

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