Ah Mandatory volunteering. I came across it again tonight in my media travels. I do this you know. Each evening I am googling volunteering on the web , on the news on the blogs. Internet technology has allowed us volunteer managers to keep up with what is happening in volunteerism world.
I love the word oxymoron. I like wikipedias definition - An oxymoron (plural oxymorons, or sometimes the Greek plural oxymora) (from Greek ὀξύμωρον, "sharp dull") is a figure of speech that combines normally contradictory terms. They appear in a variety of contexts, including inadvertent errors such as extremely average, deliberate puns like same difference' or 'pretty ugly, and literary oxymorons that have been crafted to reveal a paradox.
To me mandatory volunteering is on the same level as
I do realize that we, in volunteer management have had this discussion before. But the reason I must raise it again now is that forced or mandatory volunteering are terms still utilized by the media and public. Just Google the term.
And what I would like us to start contemplating is this: is it one of our responsibilities, as a profession, to educate the public on what volunteering is? Ah, a big and contentious ask I hear you say. But I propose that we need to think about this because at the end of the day we are the ones coordinating , managing and leading volunteers.
On a bigger picture scale – shouldn’t we have a say on volunteering definitions?
But surely – don’t we all recognize that mandatory volunteering is a no brainer for our profession?
Yes we may argue on where volunteers volunteer and yes we will argue on what is exactly volunteering but surely we can agree that volunteering, no matter where it occurs is always a matter of free choice?
However I won’t bully anyone to agree with my opinion. And I welcome an alternative view. If you can see any justification in calling forced volunteering or mandatory volunteering…volunteering… please let me know. I won’t jump down your throat and will simply examine your view with others!
Some may argue that it’s just semantics. No its not! It is not for our profession. Because when the day comes when we are asked by our agencies, workplaces and/or society to manage a team of mandatory volunteers we need to be able to articulate our concerns and opposition if we are so inclined!
For me it will simply be this – “There is no such thing as mandatory volunteering”
What do you think? And if you are nodding your head in agreement can you let me know how we can change public and media misperceptions on volunteering? If peak bodies for volunteering are failing in this area can we take up the baton? Isn’t it our responsibility as a profession? Is this our opportunity to mature and come of age?
This blog was inspired by another blog by Theresa Walsh Giarrusso who was writing on one incident of “forced volunteering”
Should public schools force parents to volunteer?
6:48 am May 11, 2010, by Theresa Walsh Giarrusso
Some schools in the San Francisco area are creating mandatory volunteer hours that parents must fulfill in their schools. In some cases the parents receive a grade based on how involved they are and in another school, they literally have a set numbers of hours they must meet.
From The New York Times:
“Inspired by Adelante, now San Jose’s Alum Rock Union Elementary School District is at work on a proposal to require the families of all its 13,000 students to do 30 hours of volunteering per school year. Many of the schools in the district, where 88 percent of the students are poor, do not even have a Parent-Teachers Association.
“We are trying to create a culture of strong parent-guardian-family participation,” trustee Gustavo Gonzalez, whose children attend Adelante, told The San Jose Mercury News….”
“ ‘It’s really simplifying what we know about what really helps children learn,’ said Ingrid Seyer-Ochi, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education, in a telephone interview. ‘That’s having parents who see themselves as learners and as having something to contribute to their children as learners.’ ”
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