Is there a better way to prepare students for a rapidly changing world?
Educators around the world have wrestled with this question for millennia, and recent challenges like globalization, mass migration, the information revolution, and of course the current global pandemic have brought it into even sharper relief. Existential questions are raised by fundamental societal shifts and challenges, such as these, for politicians, policymakers and educators alike.
These moments, and the challenges they bring, shape our present and our future. To effectively address these problems, citizens and leaders alike must have a thorough understanding of their local context, a global perspective, and problem-solving abilities that are applicable across borders.
Every day, Dulwich College Yangon aims to cultivate the leaders of tomorrow by providing a nurturing environment. Our curriculum is designed and delivered with this goal in mind: to cultivate global-minded citizens and leaders. Service learning is a cornerstone of our educational philosophy because it reflects our global perspective while also emphasizing our strong ties to the community in which we live.
Services Learning: What Is It?
Service learning is a way for students to become more involved in their communities while also achieving academic goals. But there’s a lot more to it than that. This is exactly what the citizens and leaders of the future will need: problem-solving, collaboration and project management as well as data analysis, communication and resource management, as well as local and global awareness.
Service Students learn by participating in community projects that benefit others directly; this is altruism at its most local. In order to help their local communities, students and teachers work together to implement projects that directly benefit the people in their area. Collaborating with other students and educational leaders from around the world, they share best practices and investigate the interconnectedness of many global issues.
Another aspect of Service Learning is experiential learning (learning through direct experiences). As a student at our school, you have the opportunity to participate in Service Learning, which gives students the opportunity to interact directly with the community in which they live.
At Dulwich College Yangon, our mission is to ‘Build Bridges To The World’, and so Service Learning is a major part of our curriculum. This mission’s vision is perfectly encapsulated by the combination of global perspectives and local community involvement.
Our Step In, Step Up partnership is a good example of this. On weekends, students and teachers from our school join a local charity in providing practical training and skill acquisition to underserved youths in the community. Staff and students build relationships with their local peers and the community by volunteering their spare time and utilizing their school’s physical space. As a result, they address the question posed in the introduction: ‘How can we best prepare these students for a rapidly changing future?’ This is the beauty of Service Learning: it is a virtuous circle in which students develop their own capacity to meet this challenge for themselves. Taking care of others is good for us, too.
When it comes to remote learning, how can we incorporate service learning into our curriculum?
Is it because we are no longer in the same place? Not all of them. Quite the contrary, in fact. Due to two factors that have made remote learning possible, the scope and size of service learning have grown significantly.
The first step is to broaden the definition of Service Learning so that students can concentrate more on the communities to which they have the closest ties: their own and those of their peers. Problem-solving activities encourage students to improve the quality of life in their neighborhoods and the educational environment where they are enrolled. In their Virtual Classrooms, students reflect on the changing needs of their family members and fellow students. As a result, they engage in problem-solving that involves both their physical home environment and the online learning resources available to them in their virtual school. In this way, the service learning imperatives of practical problem solving and community improvement can be developed in a new context.
In addition, technology deployment and utilization is a second enabling factor for success. The irony of being socially isolated is that technology allows you to connect with a wider range of people. There has been a need for new, online, on-demand, accessible teaching and learning resources as learning remotely is a new paradigm for all schools. In order to meet this challenge, the students at Dulwich College Yangon have been co-authoring learning resources that other students can use. Students have been actively creating teaching and learning materials that both help themselves learn more deeply and can be used to assist their peers in their education. We can see once more how helping others benefits our own well-being.
The Girls Inspired program serves as a final example. Our students at Dulwich College Yangon can participate in this virtual program that teaches young female students across Myanmar the skills and knowledge they will need to be successful in the jobs of the future. They are able to meet the needs of the present while also preparing for the future by creating innovative online learning activities for others.
By actively ‘Building Bridges To The World’, students at Dulwich College Yangon are being taught how to become global and local leaders of the future today.