Wednesday, October 03, 2007

School Daze

My son is graduating from high school on Friday.

And in order graduate, he not only had to pass his academic courses, he also had to complete a minimum of "40 hours of mandatory Community Involvement."

This is supposed to develop "a sense of civic responsibility and strong community values."

So civic responsibility, in other words, means forcing kids to work for no pay.

To me that sounds like slavery.

Paul Tuns gets it.


Anonymous said...

Nice attitude, I'm sure your son got a lot out of it if you let your attitude seep into this exercise for him.

He wasn't supposed to be flipping burgers at McD's or serving coffee at Timmys he was supposed to be giving his time to a charity and help a worthy cause. If I remember correctly HE even got to pick the charity of his choice.

I think he could have even used those hours helping the local t-ball team. 40 hours over 4 years is hardly burdensom.

Lots of kids today are so into their little lives these days, what the heck is wrong with forcing them out of their comfy zone and making them due 10 hours of community service a year?

Bob in Ontario said...

Actually, you can thank the Common Sense Revolution for that one. I think it's rather a good idea myself.

Anonymous said...

Ya sorry Ger, I agree with the comments above. I'm sure your kids will be better off for it.


Ray K. said...

Can I give you a list of different 10 hour jobs I'd like you to choose from and then do?

Why is this different?

tory@york said...

Im my experience at least, that program was great for me. I ended up volunteering at an aviation museum in early 2002, and I'm still there over 5 years on, long after finishing my hours, high school and soon university. I'ts given me the opportunity to work on vintage aircraft, meet incredible people and even fly in airshows. I have absolutely no regrets and I think the program is highly beneficial.

Anonymous said...

Gerry is right, the principle is the same as slavery. Forced 'charity' is a contradiction. The kid didn't have a choice as to whether or not he wanted to 'give' anything.

You want to know what the lesson learned by these kids is?

That it is okay to use 'force' on people for your own purposes. That it is okay to take their time, effort and property and give it to someone else. In short that it is okay to steal.

Wonderful ethic's lesson that is.

How do you propose to build a peaceful society on a foundation of theft and force? (its a rhetorical question)

A Conservative In Toronto said...

Nonsense, its hardly slavery. Part of the requirement is you can't be doing a job that would normally be given to a paid person, and you can't work for a profit-corporation.

This means that teenagers end up working for charities or (in my case) helping out on a political campaign. And keep in mind that youth who volunteer are far more likely to end up voting, which I think is a good thing.

A Conservative In Toronto said...

It's hardly slavery. You're not allowed to replace paid work, or work for a profit-corporation. That means more kids volunteering for charities or political campaigns. And youth who regularly volunteer are more likely to get involved in the civic process.

The education system is designed to turn youth into intelligent and productive citizens with a sense of civic responsiblity and I think that the volunteer hours help to instill that.

Anonymous said...

Don't complain.

I would actually be happy to see a few of my kids doing something productive every now and again.

How do I sign them up?

Ron said...

WOW - expecting the youth of this country to contribute to their society at the rate of 10 hours a year for 4 years. How utterly terrible of us. As a parent, if my child didn't voluntarily contribute to others, to some needy, worthy cause in his/her community, I would be trying to find out where I went wrong, not praising them for being so self absorbed they couldn't find 45 minutes a month to help others. What kind of citizens are we raising? Is it all about taking and never giving in return? High school students are members of our society with rights AND responsibilities. Laying a few expectations on them can't help but do a little good. And yes, while I contribute many hours a year to softball, community associations etc, I will gladly do your child's 10 hours if it will help improve your community or someone's life. Send your list.

Anonymous said...

That was a Mike Harris policy.

Anonymous said...

Showing charity and being civic minded should be VOLUNTARY, not mandatory. When it is mandatory, it is no longer charity. That is something that has to come from the heart. It should be parental responsibility to instill that civic virtue in their kids, leading by example, and not be government mandated.

Andrew Mason said...

I actually assumed the original post was tongue-in-cheek. When I did my community service hours, years ago, I worked alongside several school friends at a homeless shelter in Ottawa and at a retirement home (I think campaign volunteering even counts). Did we change the world or forge a better community? Hardly. But I enjoyed volunteering before and since. As I recall, the community service was a rewarding experience. Being required to do it also reinforced the valuable lesson that we were expected to 'give back'. A truly 'tory' lesson, IMO.

Walter said...

I would hate to be a neighbor of the Nichol's.....if I needed help; ie: a fire, health emergency, was being attacked, etc. it seems I would have to negotiate a cost to get their help.

Chet Scoville said...

forcing kids to work for no pay. To me that sounds like slavery.

To me it sounds like school. Did you get paid to go to school? Or did you do all that homework for no pay?

rondi adamson said...

Gerry -- I think it's a good idea. We have teens helping us in the Annex Cat Rescue for their hours. It helps us, it teaches them something, it helps the animals.

Ken said...

Most of these comments are ridiculous and I’ll address some points made:

-No, going to school isn’t just slavery in itself. You can argue that having minimum dropout age is slavery, but once they pass that point they are there voluntarily.

-There is no such thing as a civic “responsibility”. I am not forced to do anything as an adult. I have the right to help a person all I want, that doesn’t mean it is a responsibility.

-It doesn’t have to be “a profit-corporation” to be slavery. You are going on the assumption that because the motives of profit driven corporations are bad and motives of charities are good, then it isn’t slavery. Well, there are plenty of good corporations that I think better society. Actually corporations that make profit have to be helping someone in some way or else no one would be buying their products. Regardless, the motive of the group you are forced to do labour for has no impact on if it is slavery or not.

-“The education system is designed to turn youth into intelligent and productive citizens with a sense of civic responsibility”…. Umm no. The education is to teach kids stuff like knowledge and critical thinking. It is the parents’ job to deal with the moral stuff.

Flavrflav said...

The concept of manditory community service teaches our children nothing!

I urge the proponents of this nonsense to give their heads a quick shake.

Values systems have to be introduced to our children within the home, not through silly bureaucratic mandates.

It's just another glaring example of marxist pragmitism in which the ends justify the means.

Sassy said...

Mr. Nicholls,

I read "School Daze" and then your "About Me" sidebar - BIG disconnect, but I will give you this, you do know how to get the comment section populated.

I have a background in NGO work and my experience has been that each and every student who contributed as part of their mandated 40 hours, enjoyed every minute of their time with us, (even in a Human Rights based organization - imagine that)

Some of the comments here say that it is the responsibility of the parents to teach civic mindedness. I wonder what your son will take away from yours and others comments. Are you preparing him for a good future, the making of a better world for him and future generations?

Anonymous said...

Question - was this a case of someone not keeping up with your son's requirements? You?Him?School? Did grade 12 sneak up on you?

The requirement was intended to develop civic pride through volunteering.

Sadly some kids get more of an education from their volunteering than within their classrooms.

Ken said...

"I wonder what your son will take away from yours and others comments."

Probably that the state requiring you to "volunteer" isn't teaching any child any sort of "civic pride", it is an immoral abuse on the freedom of an individual. It is truly great when a child wishes to do volunteer work voluntarily!

Wonder Woman said...

Compulsory "volunteering" for community service is the same as extorted "charity" through taxation...they're just getting kids used to the concept that giving is meant to be forced. What better way to train the future bureaucracy?

I am lucky my son is an Army Cadet. I believe his service in the corps is submissible for this credit and it teaches him the concept of charity AND responsibility.

fergusrush said...

"Gerry is right, the principle is the same as slavery."

The consequences of refusal to comply were a tad more harsh for a slave than for a student, as I recall from history class. Gerry can surely admit that his metaphor is too strong for the point he is trying to make.

Anonymous said...

fergusrush you are confusing the principle with the punishment.

Here is a good explanation from Walter Williams,

"In a free society, each person is his own private property; I own myself and you own yourself. That's why it's immoral to rape or murder. It violates a person's property rights. The fact of self-ownership also helps explain why theft is immoral. In order for self-ownership to be meaningful, a person must have ownership rights to what he produces or earns. A good working description of slavery is that it is a condition where a person does not own what he produces. What he produces belongs to someone else."

Janet said...

As a parent, if my child didn't voluntarily contribute to others, to some needy, worthy cause in his/her community, I would be trying to find out where I went wrong, not praising them for being so self absorbed they couldn't find 45 minutes a month to help others. What kind of citizens are we raising?


We're raising the kinds of kids that only do 40 hours of community service because they're forced to, because now, thanks to the Ontario government, there's no need for parents to wonder where they went wrong, or to encourage or pressure their kids to go out and get involved, because Jr's gonna do it, like it or not.

At the time the 40 hour thing was introduced I was in high school and volunteering upwards of 350 hours a year, plus giving a great deal of time to local political organizations. I guarantee you that the sense of accomplishment and pride I took in my work will not be shared by any of the kids who do the work for no other reason than they're forced to. People who have great experiences and continue volunteering where they gave their time initially were the kinds of kids who were going to end up volunteering anyway.

All this policy does is paint over the rust so everyone can pretend like we're taking care of the car.

Miles Lunn said...

Gerry - Its called volunteer work which many adults do. It is only slavery if they tell them which specific job to do, but as long as they let them decide how to volunteer, I don't see the problem. In fact putting volunteer work on your resume is actually a real asset when applying for a job since it shows you care about doing things well and are not in it just for the money. So in that sense volunteer work does pay indirectly in the sense it makes it easier to land a higher paying job in the long-run.

In addition Gerry, it seems you are so eager to cut every program to help the most disadvantaged, so how else are we suppose to help these people, or are we suppose to just let them fall through the cracks. At least Mike Harris understood that if you had a less generous social safety net, then you needed more people to step up to the plate and help out. And this was a program introduced by Mike Harris I might add who is hardly a lefty, although if you see him as one, I guess that just shows how far right wing you are.

Anonymous said...

Miles Lunn can you please try again to explain the contradiction in 'forcing' someone to 'volunteer'?

I suppose you also believe that it's only slavery if people don't get to choose which plantation they want to work on.

Miles Lunn said...

Anonymous - Using your logic, we should then get rid of homework or make school altogether voluntarily, after all school involves work and doesn't pay. Off course this would be completely absurd. In addition 40 hours over 2 years is not very much. In addition once someone reaches a certain age, school is no longer compulsory, but before that it is compulsory.

Ray K. said...

"Its called volunteer work which many adults do. It is only slavery if they tell them which specific job to do, but as long as they let them decide how to volunteer, I don't see the problem."

Miles, did you have to stretch before contorting that? How many choices must they have before "mandatory" becomes "voluntary"? 2, 5, 20?

Anonymous said...

miles you obviously seem to have a problem with logic. Logic is Logic their is no such thing as my logic and your logic.

Logic is about non-contradiction. Forcing someone to volunteer is a blatant contradiction.

Miles Lunn said...

There is no contradiction about forcing someone to volunteer and is everything at school is mandatory. In addition we also make some people with criminal records do so many hours of community service work, so that is forced volunteerism.

Besides they have many choices.

Anonymous said...

We force criminals to do community work as 'punishment' for their crimes.

So now we are treating our youth like criminals. Nice.

fergusrush said...


Sorry, but Walter Williams is wrong; he's confusing "ownership" with "sovereignty". Slaves were deprived of sovereignty, or the moral right to choose for themselves how they would live.

I stand by my assertion that Gerry's metaphor is an overstatement.