Service, Learning, and Young Men

Our society has done a disservice to its students, especially struggling young men, by largely separating community connection from academics. In fact, the most important experience any adolescent – or, for that matter, anyone who is an ongoing student of life skills (all of us!) can only truly learn what is important when it is connected to service to our surrounding communities.

Some federally funded programs are finally getting in touch with this, a little at a time, including AmeriCorps, but I don’t think they go far enough in establishing the connection between individual education and community service, and I believe a focus on young men is truly lacking. In our society today, whether we prefer to admit it or not, a man’s worth is often wrapped up in how well he can provide for himself, his family, and his community. When we’ve got a population of struggling young men who have no developed concept of what that means, is it any wonder they’ve experienced this thing called “failure to launch?”

Young men need to see, firsthand and hands-on, what it is to provide for themselves as well as contribute to the provisions of the greater community. Once they experience the satisfaction that comes with such experiential learning, they are better equipped to embark upon a successful life’s journey.