Service Learning for Gifted Students and Adults

I found this week’s assignment to be interesting and challenging, as it required me to “think out of my usual box”. Assignment: Read through the three posted journal articles. Use these three articles (as well as any other you desire) as foundational support for a persuasive argument in the following scenario:

You have recently become concerned about a specific group of the students at your site. Academically the students are functioning well above standard and some have even tested for the district’s gifted program. However, with the building administration’s concern regarding the state standardized test and the building-wide initiative focusing resources and interventions on “bubble kids” (e.g. students who are on the edge of pass/fail) there is little attention dedicated to the needs of the “high achievers”. Some of the staff even dismiss your concerns stating, “The needs of high achievers don’t make headlines, people just care about bad test scores.”

You recognize a potential opportunity to serve this group of students by connecting the students with a local community organization (i.e. Lion’s Club, Kiwanis, Church, etc.). Your hope would be that the adults could interact with the students, providing increased academic rigor and challenge while also supplying a relevancy to the subject(s) being learned.

Using the three posted journal articles, create an outline of how you would sell this collaborative endeavor to (1) building administration and (2) the community organization leadership.

My response:

A.  Service Project: Students to work together with local fisheries personnel and local Native American tribes to assist and monitor the restoration and health of fish-bearing streams of North Kitsap County.

“Gifted adolescents develop a sense of self through various interactions with groups of people. Erikson called this trying on different hats. He believed that becoming a healthy adult is necessarily tied to resolving the crisis of identity or suffering the feelings associated with role confusion” (Cross, 2001).

B.   Rationale for Building Administration

“Erikson defined eight developmental stages during which a crisis must be resolved in order for a person to develop psychosocially without carrying forward issues tied to the previous crisis…

As the children move into adolescence, he or she must refine his or her sense of identity versus role confusion; in young adulthood, intimacy versus isolation; in middle adulthood, generativity versus despair; and in older age, integrity versus despair. According to Erikson, as the individual negotiates a crisis at each stage of development, basic strengths or virtues emerge. The following are the eight basic virtues that Erikson believed emerged across psychosocial development: hope, will purpose, competence, fidelity love, care, and wisdom, respectively.

According to Smith, “…evidence shows that participation in service learning can:

  • foster civic responsibility on the part of children, youth, and college students (Smith).
  • positively affect the cognitive and intellectual development of youths (Billig and Klute, 2003)
  • provide a sense of civic responsibility and engagement (Scales, Blyth, Berkas, and Kielsmeier, 2000).
  • contribute to improvements in self-concept and tolerance for others (Morgan and Streb, 2001)
  • build leadership skills (Billig,2002)
  • influence moral development (Conrad and Hedin, 1991) and a sense of ethics (Furco, 2002) among youth.

Provide opportunities for students to complete service hours required for culminating project.

Establish school-to-work connections for students with the community.

“Guiding the development of gifted children requires adults to work together in seeing that the children successfully resolve the crises that Erikson outlined in the eight stages of psychosocial development” (Cross, 2001, p. 4)

C.  Rationale for Community Organization Leadership

According to Smith: Service learning presents many opportunities for adult participants to:

  • develop and maintain close relationships with other people,
  • give care to those in need, and
  • balance one’s needs with a responsibility to care for others
  •  …(possibly) contribute to an “ethic of care” as a consequence of being in a helping, caregiver, or service provider role (Smith, p 10).

“A particularly relevant dimension of psychosocial maturity is development of generativity among adults… Generativity concerns the ability to care for and provide for the next generation” (Smith, p. 10).

References:

Brazelton, T., & Greenspan, S. I. (2006). Why children need ongoing nurturing relationships. Early Childhood Today, 21(1), 14-15.

Cross, T. L. (2001). Gifted children and Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development. Gifted Child Today, 24(1), 54-55,61.

Smith, M. (2008). Does service learning promote adult development? Theoretical perspectives and directions for research. New Directions For Adult And Continuing Education, (118), 5-15.

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