Empowering Students to Find Purpose and Make a Difference
Along with Creativity-Action-Service and Service Learning Coordinator Bart Dankaers, we delved into a new approach to service learning. With over a decade of experience to bring to the table, he shared how a shift in focus to the concept of service learning could foster growth and impact at ASH.
At its core, Service Learning cultivates a sense of purpose and empowers students to meaningfully engage with their communities. Bart emphasizes the intrinsic connection between Service Learning and the important topics of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice (DEIJ) and various educational methodologies, like project-based and challenge-based learning.
A shift towards a more solutionary mindset could signify an evolution of movement which integrates diverse elements like purpose, impact, community engagement into a cohesive framework.
“I'm excited for what lies on the horizon because it aligns so well with our mission and vision at ASH, to create a better world as we become better human beings. And as you develop your interests, passions and strengths, you can also have an impact on the world around you.” - Bart Dankaerts, CAS and Service Learning Coordinator
Central to Solutionary Learning is the idea that students need not wait to take action and create change. Bart highlights some examples of initiatives taken by ASH's students, such as 8th Graders leading staff meetings in the Middle School or students taking initiative to support local organizations, like our neighboring elderly residence home. Solutionary Learning welcomes all students to explore avenues aligned with their passions and interests.
By embracing this holistic approach, education evolves from a passive pursuit to an active quest for understanding and impact. The essence of Solutionary Learning lies in its emphasis on invaluable skills—collaboration, critical thinking, ethics—that shape students’ abilities to create positive change. As students navigate crucial junctures in their academic journey, a sense of purpose becomes their compass, guiding decisions and shaping trajectories.
Amidst the important choices students have to make as they become older, like choosing between taking paths in the International Baccalaureate or Advanced Placement program, or the transition to higher education or vocational training, purpose serves as a guiding pillar. It helps empower students to identify their passions, strengths, and aspirations to ensure that each step taken resonates with personal fulfillment and societal impact.
Bart underscores the transformative potential of nurturing a generation of “solutionaries”—individuals driven not merely by academic ambitions, but by a genuine commitment to causes that are important to them. “In traditional education, we do indeed guide students to become 'solutionaries',” says Bart, “but imagine what the world would look like if they became ‘solutionaries’ for things they care about?”
A next step from Service Learning, the proposal for Solutionary Learning is a journey of self-discovery, community engagement, and purposeful action—a journey that empowers students to not only navigate the complexities of the world but also to shape it for the better.