Sunday, October 19, 2014

"In the Service of What?" Reflection

     I simply had to choose the option of writing my response as a reflection due to the fact that I am currently involved in numerous service learning projects, and have the opportunity to discuss them in conjunction with Kahne and Westheimer's text. I thought it very interesting how they explained service learning to be a way to "improve the community, invigorate the classroom, [and provide] rich, educational experiences for students at all levels of schooling." (pg 2) I fully agree with statement, and can say that it is truly a rewarding experience being able to watch children grow and develop as if they were your own students for that small portion of the week you are there. Being in this setting, and walking into the school each week, being able to perform in a different role or capacity rather than just as a student, is something fresh and exciting.
     Looking at this from a different viewpoint, for the past 13-14 years, we have been molding ourselves into products of the schooling system. We were the proverbial sponges soaking up the knowledge that our teachers would lay in front of us each day, so to have the experience of being able to essentially flip that around is rewarding. It is almost our way of being able to give back to the profession that made us who we are today. It also allows us to open our eyes to another side of schooling, such as was the case with one of the service learning cases discussed in the article, in particular Mr. Johnson's case, where one of his students for their project worked in a center for babies whose mothers had high levels of crack-cocaine in their bloodstreams during pregnancy. That would be an extremely different experience from my own of course, as I am dealing with young children, but at the same time there could be similarites. I am unsure of how many of the children I deal with could come from a family who have had issues or problems such as these. It is interesting to think about the comparisons and how this project could in some ways relate to my own.
     This article also focuses a lot on the differences between the moral and political aspects of service learning, and how the two can coincide with one another. I do believe that both categories certainly have a place in education, the moral side being the teachers personal connection with the students they have, and the political side there to make sure that personal connection doesn't get too personal. What I mean by this is that by having these two codes of power (which ironically fit into Delpit's concept of the Culture of Power), we have a balanced learning environment. This politcal domain, as our authors call it, allow students the opportunity to learn in a democratic environment, and not be tethered by personal connection.
     These service learning experiences are very rewarding to everyone that has the opportunity to participate in it. They can teach life-learning lessons, and give inspiring teachers the opportunity to have a small taste of what being a teacher truly entails.

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