Wednesday, December 11, 2013

In the Service of What?: Repost

In Kahne and Westheimer's article they explored the effectiveness of Service Learning and whether or not students actually develop a higher self esteem, improved thinking skills and perfection of multiple skills, like the program has set out for them to achieve. They then talked about the two different approaches and reflected on and compared their effectiveness.

The first method stressed was, the charity and community service method.  For this the students picked a topic and went out into the "real world" and volunteered somewhere that was related to their topic chosen.  The question surrounding this way of teaching service learning was, did the students actually see the human being behind the charity that they were giving? Although there was no argument in regards to the development of the student's sense of civic duty. The second method, the change method, involved students reading stories, doing research and community service. In this situation students felt more connected with the people they were helping and were able to work together, respond to problems and feel good about helping people.

When reflecting on these two methods there isn't much difference, however the students involved with "change" were able to connect with the people they were helping on a much deeper level and for me that is most important. As I am sure many of my fellow students have, I participated in a community service project as a requirement to graduate high school and it felt more like school work rather than what it was suppose to be; life changing. Most students half a**** their project and at the very most handed out pamphlets concerning their problem or issue. Due to the lack of effort, most of my fellow classmates failed to consider the life and disposition of who they were caring for and went about their daily lives as if nothing could change it. Which is why, based on my own experiences, I believe that allowing the students to make deeper connections with their fellow neighbors is the only way that the service learning program will affect students lives in the long run.

It is my belief that the following chart shows the delicate balance needed in order for student to get the most out of their service learning experience.
With that being said, the reason why this "change" method and delicate balance, would work is due to the combination of critical inquiry and action. Which I believe Christenson would agree with. I can make this connection because of her conclusion that having her students act upon what they were learning in class, allowed the lesson to truly change their disposition on a subject. Or in her creative tongue, " Instead of leaving students full of bile, standing with their hands on their hips, shaking their heads on how bad the world is, I provided them with the opportunity to make a difference." This of course being the hope of the service learning program.

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