Want to explore the cutting edge of service learning in schools?
This is an invitation to educators involved in leading or organising service learning activities in Australian schools. The Transforming Service Conference will bring together service learning professionals from right across Australia. Over three days we will explore a national picture of service learning and work together on advancing our understanding of service learning and the foundations which underpin service encounters.
This Conference is an ecumenical initiative that recognises the rich variety of approaches across Australian faith-based schools. The conference will focus particularly on secondary schools but recognises that many schools adopt a whole-of school approach. International and cross-cultural encounters will be a focus of discussion alongside local endeavours.
Keynote speakers Sr Len Montiel, Br Damien Price, Sarah Bachelard, Jude Butcher and Richard Browning will challenge us to expand the way we think and act in the domain of community engagement. Electives will explore a range of topics and will include many practical ideas. There will be a fantastic showcase of what is working in schools around the country and a panel discussion that will provide an opportunity to ask those burning questions.
How did the conference come about?
Service Learning is a rapidly developing field in the faith-based school sector within Australia. There is much research heralding the intellectual and social benefits an experience of service provides to students especially when this is connected with the curriculum. However there is also an emerging set of problems and issues accompanying the growth of school engagement with the wider community and the world. These include inappropriate, paternalistic and selfish engagement with other cultures, student volume overwhelming small communities and inadequate frameworks for thinking about service. Some of these problems have been recently highlighted in mainstream media, for example the issues relating to Cambodian orphanages. On the cusp of a significant educational trend serious thought needs to be given to the nature of our actions, what best practice might look like and how it can be done in a way that is respectful and helpful to cross cultural partners.
In ecumenical partnership, the Anglican Board of Mission Australia, Caritas Australia, Brisbane Catholic Education, and the Anglican Schools Commission Southern Queensland are running the Transforming Service Conference.
The intention is that this conference will be held on a regular basis, either annually or biennially, and that as a national conference it will be held in a different capital city on a rotating basis.
Our hope is that by engaging at this level we will be able to shape the direction and practice of service learning in schools, provide models of best practice and be engaged in teacher formation in this area. All of this will be grounded in a broad understanding of the Gospel imperative for justice and compassion.