Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ The Mandatory Volunteerism Controversy

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

May 27, 2010

Originally posted on Half an Hour, May 27, 2010.

New Brunswick Conservative leader David Alward, in an otherwise unremarkable set of policy promises (lifted mostly from the governing Liberals' policy book) proposed, oddly, that students would be subject to mandatory volunteerism.

I have always been in favour of community service and think that students should learn by working in the community. But this, obviously, needs to be coupled with a student making his or her own choices about where to contribute. And as many people, including myself, pointed out, 'mandatory volunteerism' is an oxymoron.

Alward responded this week by saying that it wasn't actiually his idea, it was in a government-produced video.

I responded in the Times & Transcript comment area as follows (I'm posting it here because the editors have show remarkable bias in their selection of comments to post, and have set things up recently that people do not even see the comments posted on the website):

So, if I understand this right, the Tories "hit back" by admitting they stole the idea from the Liberals?

The actual video is here:

(Interestingly, the USL of this video has not been available through any media outlet in New Brunswick - probably because, if people saw it, they'd support it; I covered it a couple of months ago in OLDaily.)

It says, precisely, "Imagine... an English class that resembles a TV newsroom... physics and automotive students collaborative to solve problems with a race car... a grade 10 class that researches and designs energy solutions for the community... elementary students collaborating with others in several countries to study the onset of spring... a world issues class that travels the globe by videoconference, challenging guests about issues as they happen... students being required to give of themselves to their communities in order to graduate... do you realize these things happen in several New Brunswick schools today."

So, not only did Alward steal the idea, he got it wrong, and blurted out something very different from what was described.

(Of course, the T&T won't publish *this* comment.)

Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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