What is the difference between contributing and taking? Do the students of today understand this distinction? Can they put it into practice? As educators, it is our responsibility to ensure that the youth of today play a role in positively contributing to our society. After all, we want our future leaders and caregivers to build our communities up and expand our resources, rather than become those who tear down our quality of life.
It is important to discuss with students, on a regular basis, the value of contributing. Contributing to conversations, to programs, to the world in a positive way. Contributing means giving or donating. It could refer to time, energy, talents, money, or resources. Students should see that everyone, regardless of age or race, has the ability to contribute to our world in a positive way and make a difference. That is how we learn about each other – values, cultures, beliefs. And that is how we make our world a better place for everyone.
Taking is just that. Taking. It doesn’t offer anything in return. It isn’t helpful. It isn’t kind. It doesn’t improve the quality of life for anyone – except the taker, and that is usually temporary and minimal. All actions have consequences. Taking can suggest a negative action and has a negative consequence. Contributing, on the other hand, is a positive action with positive consequences. Contributing often has a ripple effect – impacting people positively miles away and generations apart.
How can schools and teachers impart these valuable life lessons to students? Below are a few tips:
- Value the opinions, beliefs, and experiences of every student. Encourage students to form their opinions based on fact, not rumor.
- Encourage students to share in class. Tying academic lessons to life experiences cements understanding of those lessons. Don’t be afraid to allow the lesson to drift to this area. The results are priceless.
- Provide opportunities of service and volunteerism for students. Some schools even require students to participate in some sort of service. Have students select a service, and then have them sign an agreement to complete the task.
- Expect students to participate positively while in school, and support activities that promote student service.
- Set up a field trip (or several) during the school year where the entire class participates in an act of service.
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