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I discovered service learning thanks to my students, who at one point were very used to participating in school. As a whole, the student body is used to playing its part in resolving conflicts. When there's a problem, the children have strategies to settle disputes. They also play an important role in observing how well people are getting along. They get involved in a lot of things and are accustomed to using their initiative.
The learning service is a teaching and learning method that joins two elements into a single project: The learning we do in the classroom in different subjects with the community service. The service aims to tackle social issues and times when a person's rights may have been violated because, sometimes, people's social rights are not respected. What's interesting is that children learn about these things and get to have an impact on their environment through community-based action. Then, merely because this service and community-based action exists, what they learn comes alive, they can put it into practice in a context where it's useful, they're no longer just reading about these things in books or on a computer screen; therefore, they become meaningful. Service learning can be used to change a situation.
The ideas for a service learning project comes from a wide range of sources. Sometimes they come from teachers who say: “I think I could use what I have to teach in the curriculum to focus on something in my area, which is physics, because I'd like to do something related to science. I think I could do that." So, they have an idea and they put forward ways to implement it. Sometimes, they come from the students themselves. In our municipality, we have two service learning programs that feature animals, because the students said: “We want to work with animals. So, we're going to think of a project we could do that's linked to what we're doing in school but that focuses on animals."