How service learning helps student development

Why is service learning in schools important? 

Service learning is all about encouraging students to apply their faith, knowledge, and skills to the real world. It’s about making connections between biblical teachings, academic texts, and everyday life, leading students to discover their innate sense of purpose as global citizens. 


At OLu, we believe service learning in schools is important because it inspires students to make a positive difference in a sustainable, informed way. The approach is a natural fit for a curriculum promoting the truths of Christianity: loving your neighbor, caring for others, and seeking to do all things that would result in hope, generosity, and sharing the gospel message of salvation that can only be found in Christ.

Here are three other ways that service learning benefits students and promotes their development:  

Service learning embodies the principles of how faith is put into action

A service learning mindset is an important tool enabling teachers to explain just what it means to live a faith-based life. Many, but not all, of our students enter the classroom already aware of Christ’s truth in their hearts. A service learning approach guides students in deepening that awareness.   

As Christians, we come from a spirit of wanting to know and understand someone else’s story through the lens of love. Galvanized by the tenets of service learning, OLu teachers demonstrate what it looks like to walk alongside students and create compassion-based solutions to life’s many challenges. 

As a result, the benefits of service learning allow students to live out their own spiritual journeys of self-discovery within an academic setting. 

Service learning is versatile 

Service learning at OLu looks like a mosaic. It’s a philosophy that’s applied to all subjects, from social studies to sciences, as well as our Missions program. This is because it’s important to avoid a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all approach to education. At OLu, students see service learning from different perspectives, leading to a range of unique experiences. 

Click here to explore unique ways OLu integrates faith in the high school experience.

Benefits of service learning

Students benefit from this multifaceted approach because it generates strong partnerships with our faculty, as well as a link between academic subjects. 

One such example is when one of our  history instructors worked with our educational coach to integrate sustainable development goals into their lessons. Students were taught firsthand what it means to be progressive global citizens by first taking charge of their own sense of well-being. 

In another example, science students applied service learning to their unit in Marine Biology by organizing a beach cleanup in collaboration with a local NGO. They also took the initiative to raise funds for a nearby marine biology conservation center.

LeaRning promotes important soft skills 

Soft skills are often among the sets of competencies articulated by organizations seeking out ideal candidates. Examples of soft skills include teamwork, adaptability, and critical thinking. Cultivating these skills may not necessarily be measured by academic scores, however honing them - especially in high school - is a vital part of learning to overcome complex problems.

The ability to communicate and reflect is a deeply important part of what it takes to create intercultural understanding and open-mindedness. A service learning model is important because it gets at the heart of developing these competencies in tangible ways. 

OLu students are encouraged by a service learning mindset to care about making a meaningful impact locally and globally. Graduates go on to find their place as changemakers and leaders, as their soft skills become a way of living and being. 

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