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By Hazel Israel, Bantani Education
As the pandemic evolves and life remains different and challenging, many children again find themselves learning online at home, and the possibility of living with restrictions limiting their movement outside of the local area. During previous lockdowns, many people have reported that they have rediscovered their local areas, or, for some, discovered it for the first time. People have reported relishing the time not spent on long commutes, noticing and enjoying nature. A part of this experience has been the awakening of a renewed appreciation of the ‘local’. It is this idea of ‘local’ that in fact creates our community and when we think about creating value for others, the primary objective of entrepreneurial learning and competence, where better to start than in our own local communities?
The local community is a rich resource in which to start developing entrepreneurial competence, spotting opportunities to add value, mobilising others, collaborating and creating solutions to local problems, and building relationships with neighbours to offer and find support and advice.
Looking to the local community as a learning resource increases children’s understanding of their community and businesses in the community as well as raising awareness of local needs and issues. Building partnerships in the community with schools, businesses and local clubs and organisations can foster new ways of thinking about learning to add value to community services, resources and opportunities. Learning in the community is authentic and motivational for learners, empowering children with a sense of what value they can contribute to their community. Learning in the community can improve retention and engagement, helping learners to absorb, retain and transfer knowledge, applying their learning to real world situations.
“Working with a community partner has the benefit of bringing students into meaningful contact with future employers, customers, clients, and colleagues. Students experience higher levels of engagement and take a deeper approach to learning when they are able to apply what they are studying to address a real-world problem. They are better able to apply theory to the specific project. They have a deeper understanding of the subject matter. They can improve critical thinking, problem solving, presentation, analytical, team work, and interpersonal skills. They can experience what it is like to work on real problems relevant to their discipline, and reflect on that learning in a safe and supporting environment.”
Learning in this way activates young learners as ethical informed citizens who understand and exercise their human and democratic responsibilities and rights to understand and consider the impact of their actions when making choices and decisions. Collaborating within communities to learn builds knowledge and pride in local cultures, communities, society and the world to respect the needs and rights of others in diverse society.
Discover more on learning in the community with 10 Creative Service Learning Projects To Inspire Your Students from Serve Learn.
Hazel Israel is Education and Skills Advisor at Bantani Education, a non-profit organisation transforming learning and developing mindsets in the entrepreneurial education sector. Visit the Bantani Education website for more information.