Busting Higher Education’s Myths About Public Service

The article below outlines several myths surrounding public service and volunteerism that institutions of higher education often unwittingly reinforce.  President Barack Obama and his administration are seeking to debunk these myths by calling all Americans to serve their country.  The call is not misguided because often the best motivator for a lifespan of educational and career success is helping students connect their abilities and values to a cause they care about.   When students can envision how their academic and personal interests, as well as their abilities, can make a difference in the real world, they are more likely to persist with their educational and career goals.

This is the premise behind the Tiger Woods Learning Centers (TWLC) in Anaheim, California.  On his podcast at http://www.twlc.org/message.html Tiger says, “This is certainly bigger than anything I’ve done on the golf course.  We want to help students understand what it takes to succeed and to understand career paths.  It’s exciting for all of us to see them this fired up about learning.” In her opening remarks at the ribbon cutting of the TWLC, Maria Shriver gave a commentary on her dad’s speech to his alma mater, Yale University, when he challenged graduates to “break the mirrors that make you only see yourself and prevent you from seeing the world outside yourself.”


Helping students become self-directeed learners is one of the goals of  LifeBound’s text, Junior Guide to Senior Year Success:  Becoming a Global Citizen, where we’ve included stories about real-life “globe savers,” people who are using their gifts and talents to make the world a better place for all of us.  Most get ready for college books are all about applying and getting in.  Our approach is larger and impacts how the young adult develops as a person.   As an example of this kind of “social innovation,” consider an artist from Pittsburgh, Bill Stickland, who is implementing his entrepreneurial skills and applying them to social problems.  In 1996, he won the McArthur Fellowship “genius” award for economic development.  To read the Wall Street Journal interview with Mr. Strickland, visit  http://bit.ly/3KPDid


What kinds of programs help students gain a bigger perspective of the world and help them find an interest their passionate about?

How can we help students to discover more about themselves, their abilities and their future after high school?

What else can we do to help students relate what they learn in school to future careers?


Chronicle of Higher Education

Barack Obama began his presidential campaign by promising to make public service “cool” again. He is now working to honor that pledge by strengthening three types of service: a day of volunteering now and again, a year or two with organizations such as AmeriCorps or Teach for America, and lifelong careers working in government or nonprofit agencies.

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