A Common Heritage of Civic Engagement

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Our nation, created by its citizens, was founded on freedom and equality. Incorporating an experiential civic education curriculum for our youth that fosters the concept “of the people, by the people, and for the people” exemplifies our foundational concepts. Think “of the average person,” “of the specialized expert,” “of a child” and a convergence of these as an average person gets a suggestion from an expert and involves children in the process. As we work together, we will create solutions of value in the community, nationally, and worldwide. With the aid of our technology, we can come together with the support of our common humanity focused through the lens of our children. A national point of dissemination would facilitate communication and renew inspiration for a government that works for and with the people, encouraging them to suggest, create, and refine solutions without control measures that might inhibit best outcomes.

As we come together as Americans, we will learn from and be inspired by one another. Those who take the lead will show us the path and reach out with support to bring us onboard. As our children see other children, as teachers see other teachers, as parents see other parents, as principals and superintendents see other administrators accomplishing project objectives, a convergence and flow of collective energy will carry us forward.

We have never come together to see what would happen if we positively embraced one another in sustained community service. Communication and coordination technology is poised to initiate this potential. To envision that this sustained developmental work—drawing on the best ideas in a variety of realms with our children at the helm—could bring widespread peace and productivity is not a quantum leap but an easily attained outcome based on resources at hand.

As we broaden our perspective, we can see the integration of national and global elements that affect our families and local communities. A national model would strengthen our national identity—not only as we perceive ourselves, but also as others around the world perceive us by our actions and commitment. Once up and running, the model easily coordinates with other developed nations, working with them to adopt sister cities in developing areas of the world and coordinating work on environmental issues—sharing the positive results of these efforts worldwide. We would build extensive relations at home and abroad from a sustained base of outreach.

Beginning at the local level is something we can see and understand. Local organizations make us aware of local problems, and a national checklist of projects can provide solutions. Reaching out to others nationally as we meet local needs and have excess would strengthen our national unity. Similar organizations in similar communities are often problem solving similar difficulties. Sharing processes and outcomes promotes efficiency and allows us to see where there are excesses and deficiencies and help one another on a national level.

Helping those in developing areas brings us together in solving issues of environmental concern and peaceable coexistence. As every community works with a sister city, shared problem solving increases significantly. Bringing solutions, often generated by indigenous people, to areas of the world in need can positively impact our world standing. Relationships developed between children worldwide will influence their adult-world relations in the future.

Fast-forward to consider the time when the cycle is repeating for the children of the first round of parents who themselves engaged in K–12 service learning; they will bring a wealth of experience to their children’s service learning education, and there will be parents worldwide who were on the receiving end of the service outreach in sister-city relationships. Imagine a world that continually receives intelligent giving and operates from a base of cooperative relationships.

Building a common core of service learning projects managed by our youth reaches down to the roots of our citizenry to create comprehensive, sustained outreach to those in need, a heritage of civic engagement. We can come together with unity of purpose as people with common challenges united in ongoing problem solving. With a base model of service learning projects in all school systems, children and families have a point of commonality with others across the United States, and our heritage of civic engagement becomes a topic of conversation that celebrates our accomplishments and our ability to build meaningful relationships locally, nationally, and globally through the inclusion of our youth.

 

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Questions? E-mail the author at sandymckane [at] gmail [dot] com.
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