Impactful learning makes a difference

Education | 26 Jun 2018

Service-Learning allows students to give back to society and make impactful connections with the elderly

With education today being increasingly focused on academic knowledge, people are starting to lose track of some fundamental aspects of learning. The correlation between education and success should not only embody materialistic pursuits and wealth. Self-fulfilment and philanthropy are crucial incorporations to learning which allow students to develop a positive moral code.

To encourage this, the PolyU-affiliated School of Professional Education and Executive Development (PolyU SPEED) has introduced Service-Learning (SL) that integrate meaningful community service with academic study.

Many elders in Hong Kong are currently facing psychological and emotional issues. Due to deteriorating health and cognitive ability, many of them are having a deflated self-impression, regarding themselves as a burden to family and society.

In light of this social phenomenon, PolyU SPEED has introduced a SL subject: "Using Human-Centered Design to Work with the Elderly: A Memoir Project". The project in this subject aims to help the elders rediscover their self-significance through the production of their own memoir with the help of students. The project encourages them to focus on their contributions to family and society.

As for students, this subject trains their creative storytelling skills and ability to analyse, organize and articulate the content materials in a way that tells the elderly's story in a captivating way. The subject also, more importantly, helps students gain valuable lessons and insights from the stories and experiences of the aged.

Lau Ka Yung, Ken, a student of the subject, has had a very impactful experience. "The memoir project reminds me that physiological and emotional needs are of equal importance to the elders," says Lau.

"It was very fulfilling and joyful to be able to share with students my positive and negative experiences in my past," says Cheng Lai Ping, the subject of Lau's project. "It also gave me an opportunity to understand the perspective of the younger generation."

For Kwan Cheuk Ling, also a student of the subject, the project has not only allowed her to develop a much deeper understanding and connection with elders, but also propelled her design skills to the next level. "The knowledge and skills in design I have acquired in this subject surprised me, my horizon was really widened." says Kwan.

"I was really happy to share some of my traditional pudding recipes with the students," says Shek Yea Pat, the subject of Kwan's project. "I rarely have a chance to interact with young people, not even my grandchildren, and this project gave me the opportunities to spend time with the students."

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