September 08, 2008

Mandatory Service

Is mandatory service today the best way to encourage willing service tomorrow?

Legislation has been proposed that would force high school students to participate in a set number of hours of community service per year. Not just to make it into the National Honors Society, or for a better chance to make the college of their choice. But, simply to graduate from high school.

There would be much good that would come from this, specifically the tremendous amount of community service that would get done from this new market of forced labor.

Willing service would obviously be a much more beautiful picture. True love offered without coercion. But, until that happens, should we force it, in hopes that seeing the need would spur willing action post- high school?


Jeff said...

Willing service would, indeed, be much better than compulsory service.

But students attending school "willingly" versus mandating they be there (until they're 16, under most state law) would be preferred, as well. That doesn't mean we shouldn't force them to do it.

I'm in favor of a little mandatory service as part of an education curriculum; nothing too drastic or difficult. I just think it'd be good for everyone involved, offers kids some real world experience they might otherwise be lacking, and you may just see some students who enjoy it enough to willingly participate beyond what's required.

Marc said...

I'm with Jeff on this one. (and not just because he affirmed my last comment)

Just like High School academia gives students a basic understanding of many things, a small amount of compulsory service (emphasis on small) would do well to introduce students to the possibility of future service.

Much of my hangups on volunteering are grounded in a fear of the unknown. What's out there? What would it be like? Turn those things into "knowns" for students in their high-school years, and I believe that voluntary service would increase.

Eric Olsen said...

Jeff, I actually got this post idea from a discussion we had, either on your blog or mine, a while back.

The mandatory school argument follows the same logic as well. We see the benefits of forced schooling and standardized curriculum. But, does that make this coercion right?

If the cut-off of this coercion is "nothing too drastic", is that simply because the means no longer justify the ends?

Jeff said...

"If the cut-off of this coercion is 'nothing too drastic', is that simply because the means no longer justify the ends?"

No, I think the cut-off of this coercion should follow the same logic of the current higher education academic model -- having a few requirements in various studies and the option to pursue that course-work further as you refine your area(s) of interest.

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