Albert Einstein, one of the smartest men to ever live, is quoted saying “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” This is achieved through striving to uplift those around you with volunteering. Anything from cleaning up garbage to offering companionship to elderly and disabled people is a way to change the world, bit by bit.
However, no single person can change the world on his or her own. There must be a constant effort from all of those that support this belief. Some believe that the best way for this to be accomplished is through mandatory community service implemented through schools, charities or churches.
Although community service can be extremely valuable in the development of both character and academics, some believe the negative effects of forcing students to participate by making a set amount of service a requirement for graduation could offset the benefits. Today, a majority of high schools require so many hours of community service in order for high school seniors to graduate.
In 1984, only 17 percent of high schools offered a community service program. This number increased 66 percent in just 15 years. By 1999, 83 percent of all high schools offered, and many required participation in, a community service program. Two thirds of high schools today require students in all grades to participate in community service activities (Howe and Strauss), but is this taking it too far?
Community service is being forced upon students all over the country. Students who are forced to do community service will grow to resent it, making them less likely to volunteer in their communities after college. Our country needs people to volunteer, and more than just the young adult high school population.
Also, if students are forced to do community service, the quality of the help they give is probably not going to be very good because they don’t really want to do it. Requiring community service takes the volunteerism out of the equation and soon many of those who “volunteer” are those who don’t even want to be there. Forcing students to participate in community services will cause them to resent voluntary services for the community later in life. In most communities, community service is used as a punishment for those who step out of line.
“For teenagers, ‘community service’ came to mean punishment for drunk drivers and Breakfast Club miscreants” (Howe and Strauss). In addition to students coming to resent community service, mandatory service takes away the benefits that actual volunteers would receive. If community service is not required, volunteerism carries more weight on a college application.
Aside from the collegial benefit, volunteering helps to build the moral center of oneself. In the article, “Community Service Mission Statement”, the writer states that “Community Service situates our moral center;” also that it teaches us through experience “—about the relationship between empathy and responsibility, about what it takes to be a part of a community”.
The strength of a community is found within the hearts of those who make the area a home. However, critics believe that community service should be required. They argue that education should not be limited to the classroom and that community service is a learning experience. While this may be true, many other experiences are educational yet should not be mandatory for high school students. For example; sports. Not all students are meant to be athletes. Sports are encouraged throughout high schools, but not required. This gives students the opportunity to experience what it means to work hard as a team. If all students were required to play sports, it would ruin sports for those who love to play.
The same goes for volunteering: service is a growing and a learning experience, yet if unwilling students are required to participate in service activities, they spoil the experience for everyone else. Critics support their idea with a great argument; however, it isn’t logical. Community service is without a doubt a learning experience, but the choice to partake in such an experience should be left to the student. Community service isn’t for everyone just as sports aren’t for everyone. It’s up to more than just the high school student to change the world, and this can be achieved by activities other than community service.
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