Top Reasons Service-Learning Promotes Being Creative and Entrepreneurial: 21st Century Skills In Action
Primarily, it’s because the answers are not in the back of the book.
There. That is why service learning develops the 21st Century Skills of being creative and entrepreneurial. (click for the list of seven 21st Century Skills students develop and demonstrate through service learning.) Giving students the freedom to dream of new solutions encourages them to be creative and entrepreneurial.
For example, when a class of middle school students started to investigate the amount of waste generated in their cafeteria by sorting and weighing the contents of the trash bags—don’t worry, everyone wore gloves—they had no idea, and neither did their teacher, that by the next school year their efforts would eliminate foam lunch trays and replace them with compostable trays. They didn’t know that compostable trays were even available. Check the link and see the path they paved to make it happen.
So there. One example of service learning promoting creativity and entrepreneurship…
But there is something nagging at you…you’re thinking that there is more, right?
End products (and events or actions) get a lot of attention when it comes to projects. It’s the same with service learning projects. Just remember that it is the process of open-ended investigation combined with meaningful reflection and a collaborative and supportive environment that nurtures invention and builds confidence that leads to students being creative and entrepreneurial.
High quality service learning promotes creativity in part because of the length of time participants are engaged in the process. Remember, the quality standards for service learning include the standard of Duration and Intensity. The research that accompanied the standards when they were published in 2008 says that “service-learning is conducted during concentrated blocks of time across a period of several weeks or months.” It is not unusual for projects to take longer.
So what can teachers do to promote students to be creative and entrepreneurial while doing service learning?
Well, here is a short list—let’s do a longer list with more detail on another day—of some techniques teachers use to develop the relationships, learning environments and attitudes that lead to students being creative and entrepreneurial while demonstrating content knowledge and other 21st Century Skills:
- brainstorming using various techniques to promote either divergent and/or convergent thinking
- multiple opportunities for reflection using multiple modalities
- building a collaborative environment through complex initiatives and democratic group process
- small and whole group discussion as well as individual time for planning and thinking about criteria for solutions to problems
- timely and targeted feedback
This list is not exhaustive…but it begins to suggest some of the things that teachers do in addition to providing authentic problems to solve without predetermined solutions that give students the opportunity to be creative and entrepreneurial.
When have you experienced service learning helping students to be creative and entrepreneurial? Share it in the comment box.