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What if joining the Peace/Ameri Corps was mandatory in public schools in the United States following graduation of high school?

Joining the Peace/Ameri Corps is not only a form of charity, but an educating experience in itself; one that is beyond something that can be taught in books or anything teachable in a classroom. The lessons and knowledge gained through the volunteer programs help provide and educate a new prospective to other cultures and ideologies in the world. What if it were mandatory to join one of these volunteer programs (Peace Corps, AmeriCorps) for a certain amount of time upon graduating high school? What would be the benefits/drawbacks? Could this ultimately effect the skewed public educational system in the United States and the non-progressive standard path taken by high school graduates?

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  • Jul 1 2013: Whenever ideas for public service are brought up, I repeat my two cents worth.

    Public service should be mandatory for everyone upon leaving high school, graduates and drop outs alike. I think two years is about right. Some would serve in the armed forces, others in the Peace Corps, some might just put in time at the local court house or help out at a public school. Just who would get which job could be a combination of volunteering, skills matching, and lottery. The point is that living in a society provides benefits to everyone, and everyone should help out. Compensation would be at the minimum wage. That might be educational for people from a more comfortable background.
    • Jul 1 2013: Society provides greater benefits for some than others. I believe the amount of public service required by citizens should be based on how much they have benefited from society. This should be based on income.
      • Jul 1 2013: I was not suggesting that two years of service would mean that taxes would no longer be necessary. I agree, that taxes should be progressive with income.
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    Jul 1 2013: I would oppose making such a trajectory mandatory for many reasons, including the one that LaMar mentions below- that age 18-21 is a critical period of development during which young people are not fully mature. I do not know what sorts of tasks the youngest of the Peace Corps volunteers undertake and how much more they might be able to offer when more mature.

    I am anxious about mandatory assembly of young people into institutional work programs under institutional supervision, regardless of how benevolent and enlightened the administrators believe they are.

    I believe that having this an option allows youth and their families to make appropriate decisions on a case by case basis.
  • Jul 28 2013: I agree it would be great to make military or public service required. Think it should depend on when - some would do it after high school, some after college, some after post work (i.e. doctors, lawyers, etc.)
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    Jul 28 2013: The idea of requiring a period of public service by every individual is a very good way to re-teach us that we as individuals owe a debt to the society that nurtures and protects us. The emphasis on the individual that has swept through "western" culture over the past century and more has value because the unique worth of each individual was earlier not acknowledged in many societies. But the flip side of the stress on individualism has been a reduction in emphasis on the community, with a loss of the sense of duty and responsibility to that which brought us our individual rights - namely society.

    A period (perhaps 12-18 months) of public service, military or civilian, working on meaningful public projects together with youths of other areas and cultural background, will add maturity and self-discipline to young people in the upper teens, and will give them time both to experience a workplace and to consider their future. In my opinion this is a great benefit both for the individual and for society. It should go without saying that such a program must be excellently and fairly administered, with stable funding.
  • Jul 16 2013: I agree with most of the previous comments on this "mandatory service" business. Let me list few of my suggestions for the new graduates, including late term college dropouts too.
    1. All the graduates who have been accepted into graduate schools, including med and law schools, are allowed to go ahead without interruptions.
    2. All graduates who are being employed by regular existing business or public institutions will also allowed to work in these positions.
    3. All other graduates, or dropouts with at least passing grades through the sophomore years, will be given the opportunity to select and being accepted to training programs in local community or business or industry, or the government supported Peace corps or Ameri-corps, etc.
    4. There still should be exemptions for the left-out from "3." due to mitigating circumstances, such as to take care of disabled parents, spouse, or children.
  • Jul 4 2013: Hi Tyler,

    I think mandatory service is an awesome idea. I think limiting the service opportunity is the biggest drawback. I think the mandatory service should address local communities as well. I think the students should be offered a wide range of possible service opportunities that will enable them to focus on not only the service they give but engage them in an activity that will feed into their personal future goals.

    Jen
  • Jul 2 2013: Having his as an option for students would be valuable. But don't just limit it to Peace or Ameri-corps, include other internship opportunities and/or programs that would support learning. As others have said, the time from 18 - 21, and I would say 25, is such a growth time as adolescence is finished and students are learning to become adults.

    Making this mandatory is fraught with challenge.
  • Jul 1 2013: I fear for the future of America if this is a serious question, as well... responses.

    Mandatory service as a condition of citizenship.... and I thought Obamacare was going too far.

    I get it, everybody wants to fix the world... and being guilty myself of making outlandish statements under the guise of utopian progressivism, I'm not trying to bash anybody. But sometimes, things are taken too far...

    1. You really want to take individuals from educational opportunities that are more suited for their individual interests?

    2. What if someone doesn't want to join? Is there a fine, in return allowing those with enough money to buy their way out of joining? It would then be criminal not to join, and considering the resistance that there would be, do we then round up people and put them behind bars because they wont participate?

    3. 'non-progressive standard path taken by high school graduates'... ?

    From experience, nothing is worse than a 18-21 year old progressive individual. There's no sense of reality, there's no real experience behind their positions on issues. They're still very impressionable and just become tools for other people. They aren't the directors, they are the puppets canvassing neighborhoods supporting things they truly know little about, I've been there and learned quickly the ridiculousness of 'how things work'.

    Being exposed to different cultures and ideologies certainly has its benefits, but this isn't something we should be 'forcing' people to experience. Instead, we should allow individuals to become themselves with appropriate guidance.

    If you don't mind me asking, what influenced this line of questions regarding the impact of forcing people to join Peace/Ameri Corps? What main issues are you addressing? For I believe there are multiple other routes to be taken when solving them, before suggesting that people are forced into participating in a government sponsored initiative.
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      Jul 28 2013: " What main issues are you addressing?"

      I can't speak for Tyler, who seems to not have joined in so far, but let's see:

      A common American notion is that we (i.e., Americans) have developed the world's greatest society, and that the model for such an ideal society is just a group of individualists in the same place, competing against each other. If we're occupied with one thing it's our individual RIGHTS. What we seem to have forgotten is that the human species has survived and developed as groups. It is the group - the society - that has developed the laws and the organization that have given individuals their rights, and that protect those rights.

      It's very American to think that while the society owes us protection of our individual rights, the individual does not owe society anything. But this is, in the long run, an irresponsible and unsustainable idea. The members of a society whose rights are protected owe thereby a DUTY to that society.

      I would say that the issue being addressed is how to return a sense of duty and responsibility to our youth. In our otherwise rather unregulated society (and I personally like the freedom that comes with minimal regulation) a period of public service is the perfect vehicle for developing responsibility. When it is known that everyone must participate in such service, with some flexibility the service can be scheduled to best suit the individual. I believe that young people would come out of such a term of service with greater maturity and greater understanding and empathy for society's challenges.