At my high school, we were required to complete 10 hours of community service in order to receive an honors diploma.I fulfilled my hours by feeding the destitute in a local soup kitchen, cleaning and planting in the fresh air as part a park beautification project, and finally (and more prosaically) stuffing envelopes for a human rights group. I felt both a rush of empowerment and an enhanced appreciation for the tremendous difficulties and beautiful possibilities out there in the world beyond my teenage bubble.While this seems like an admirable trend, in terms of inculcating civic virtue and promoting the importance of giving back, there is a very fair objection to be made: if you make volunteering mandatory, is it still volunteering?Without getting too deep into the Kantian ethical weeds regarding the relative importance of intentions versus results, I think we can say that, especially for minors, some amount of coercion to do the right thing (in the hopes that such actions will be repeated without pressure in the future) is acceptable. As every parent knows, if we were really under some burden to explain why they had to do everything we make them do, we wouldn’t get very far.As one whose school has developed such a requirement, I disagree.The answer to "Does it help the beneficiaries of community service if students are forced to participate? The Jewish religion, along with others, requires its adherents to perform acts of kindness. In an ideal world it would be wonderful were everyone to visit the sick, comfort the mourner and give charity because he or she wants to.In the real world, however, most people do these because they know they ought to.Making such activity a requirement for high school graduation teaches an important lesson to young people, that service to others is not an option but an obligation.
2) questions the validity of Maryland's mandating community service for high school students as a requirement for graduation.But by the end of high school, things change somewhat.Minors are still minors, but we must extend some slack to them, to encourage them to come into their own as young adults.A high school education's purpose is not only to train young people academically and intellectually.A primary purpose is also to develop ethical, responsible, compassionate human beings. 4, 1992 The writer, a rabbi, is principal of the Ramaz School in Manhattan.