Monday, October 28, 2013

"In the Service of What? The Politics of Service Learning" by Joseph Kahne and Joel Westheimer


“Educators and legislators alike maintain that service learning can improve the community and invigorate the classroom, providing rich educational experiences for students at all levels of schooling” (2).

This quote is important because it talks about the importance of service learning. By having students be active participants in the community it gives them a chance to learn not only from their educators but also from experiences. Within these educational experiences they can bring back to the classroom knowledge that they have gathered; making the class invigorating. For example in high school I participated in a project in which the students in my advisory would go out and clean different areas around the city. We learn in science class the kinds of things that hurt the environment but 
rarely do students have the chance to go out and actually take part. I feel 
like this project helped to change how my advisory saw littering. Before we would go out and see garbage on the floor and just walk around it but after taking part, we no longer think of littering as being “Okay”.

“A music director at a middle school we studied wanted her suburban, upper-middle-class students to perform at a nearby elementary school in a poor neighborhood. Some of the middle school parents objected, saying that they were concerned for their children's safety. In a written evaluation, the students said that they had imagined "horrifying children running around on a dirty campus." They had expected them to be "rude, tough, noisy, and very unfriendly," and they even thought they would be "mean, gang-related blacks." One of the students wrote, "I was scared because my mom had told me it was a bad neighborhood and to be careful” (7-8).

This paragraph is important to me because it shows how upper-middle-class parents tend view the less fortunate schools. These parents are just filling the minds of their children with these stereotypes that are brain washing their children. Instead of objecting and telling the teacher they are concerned about the safety of their children they should be supportive because it could potentially turn in to a chance for their children to learn about these less fortunate schools and the children that attend it. Not all children in these less fortunate schools are horrifying, noisy, and rude. Most are actually very bright, polite, and quiet children. 
  Rather than assume, erroneously, that all educators share the same vision, we think it is better to be explicit about the numerous and different visions that drive the creation and implementation of service learning activities in schools (13).

This quote to me is important because it tells us that instead of thinking wrong, and assuming that all educators share the same beliefs when it comes down to service learning, we should acknowledge that there are different ways of viewing it. For example some educators might look at service learning more along the lines of it being a political domain, while others look at it in a more a moral domain. Although there are many ways of looking at service learning it is either way learning experiences that allow children to learn. 

Talking Point: I believe that service learning does in fact teach children many lessons. I believe that we should encourage children to be more active in the community because it does make a difference.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Nelsy,

    The paragraph you talk about in your second quote stood out to me too. It just proves that those types of attitudes towards "others" are learned, and I liked reading about how the service experience changed the students learned perceptions. Service learning projects can really be powerful for that reason, though I agree with the authors where they said the "effect could have been greater if students discussed the possible causes of these rumors and their impact" (p. 12).

    And I agree with you that we should encourage students to be more active in the community, because there is so much for them to learn outside of the classroom. Great post!

    - Jamie