Community Engagement

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Compositive Model

Community Engagement

Ultimately, a well-rounded, whole-child education lacks meaning and is incomplete unless and until it connects back to the broader world in authentic ways. A child can have fully internalized all components of a whole mind, whole heart, and whole body education and yet will remain unfulfilled unless she has ample opportunities to offer her skills and wisdom to the world.

That’s why what we call a wholly connected education focuses on two broad areas of engagement: engagement experiences and tools for engagement.

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Engagement Experiences

Engagement experiences include conventional civic engagement, unconventional civic engagement, service, and service-learning.

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Conventional Civic Engagement

Conventional civic engagement means those practices and actions we typically associate with being an engaged citizen: voting, volunteering, participating in political and civic organizations (e.g. neighborhood associations, student government). Children from families that hold political conversations at home are more likely to vote as adults. And high school students who join political groups are more likely to vote and volunteer later in life.

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Service - Learning

Service-learning is a learning experience during which students participate in organized service that not only addresses the needs of a community, but also promotes students’ civic responsibility. Service-learning is positively associated with cognitive development (e.g., improved critical thinking), academic outcomes (e.g., academic achievement and educational attainment), and thinking about a future career.

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Unconventional Civic Engagement

Unconventional civic engagement includes activities like protesting, boycotting, boycotting (buying products from companies whose values you support) and consumer activism. Students less inclined to volunteer for service projects and who complete mandatory service requirements during high school tend to have higher levels of unconventional civic engagement later in life.

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Volunteering - Community Service

Service encompasses both community service and volunteering. The National Service-learning Clearinghouse defines service as “volunteering for the sake of meeting the needs of others or the community.” And volunteering is any activity in which time is given freely to benefit another person, group, or organization. Both community service and volunteering increase self-awareness and self-esteem, increased access to social networks, and ongoing increase in civic commitment.

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Tools for Enagement

Tools for engagement include engagement/civic skills, engagement beliefs and values, civic knowledge, and interpersonal competencies. 

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Civic Beliefs & Values

Engagement beliefs and values encompass beliefs and attitudes regarding political efficacy (i.e., whether an individual believes they can affect change) and beliefs about the future, social trust and trust in the American promise, trustworthiness of media and elected officials, and the belief that government is for ordinary people. Education and service opportunities play a significant role in people’s beliefs about their ability to affect public life. Demographic characteristics of youth and their parents have a major impact on beliefs about trust on the media, social trust, etc.

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Civic Knowledge

Civic knowledge includes knowledge about the political system, and knowing how to acquire such knowledge. Youth with high degrees of civic knowledge, or whose parents possess such knowledge, show increased levels of social tolerance and civic engagement.

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Engagement / Civic Skills

Engagement/civic skills are those skills necessary for effective civic action. They include organizational skills, communication skills, collective decision-making skills, and thinking skills e.g. analyzing political information). Studies show that parents can play an important role in the development of civic skills; political discussions with parents predicted children’s news monitoring and communication skills.

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Interpersonal Competencies

Leadership, teamwork, and cooperation, for example, are important for participating in groups, organizing groups, and making cooperative decisions.

Key research findings include

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as it relates to our whole child education model. 

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