Sunday, October 27, 2013

Quotes from "In The Service of What? The Politics of Service Learning"

This week’s blog post is on 3 quotes from “In The Service of What? The Politics of Service Learning” by Joseph Kahne and Joel Westheimer.

“The experiential and interpersonal components of service learning activities can achieve the first crucial step toward diminishing the sense of “otherness” that often separates students—particularly privileged students—from those in need.  In so doing, the potential to develop caring relationships is created.” (page 8)
The paragraphs before this quote describe the outlooks and mindsets of middle-school students on an elementary school in a poor neighborhood. The music students received negative comments regarding the school they would be performing at. Their parents even went a step further, beyond the negative comments, and told the teacher they did not want their children performing at the school because it was not safe. This reminded me of the experience I had when I first started my service learning project. In my post “You’re Going WHERE?” I share my personal experience with how I allowed outside influences to determine my outlook on the school I was placed at, before I even started there. 

“Otherness”-defined by the dictionary as the state or fact of being different or distinct. Ask Johnson, Delpit and even Kozol and they would define “otherness” as those without privilege. Each of these authors share examples of how the line between privilege and “otherness” needs to be broken. White privilege, upper class, male dominance, etc. all these are part of the privilege talked about in this quote, as well as in Johnson’s, Delpit’s and Kozol’s articles. In order for the line to be diminished the appearance of being privileged must disappear. We can’t walk into a school feeling empowered over our students. We must walk in ready to connect with our students.

“Clearly, having students share their thoughts and experiences with one another can be valuable, but reflective activities (commonly in the form of journal entries and discussions) may simply reinforce previously held beliefs and simplistic, if generous, conclusions.” (page 12)
I chose this quote because I can personally relate to this. I do not agree with this quote. I complete a journal entry for every visit at my service learning placement. Each time I write in my journal I write about an experience that has changed my previous outlook on the school and the students. I find myself growing each week that I tutor my students.  I feel as if the entries in my journal are helping me slowly realize what it means to be a good teacher.

“To be critical thinkers, students must be able to consider arguments that justify conclusions that conflict with their own predispositions and self-interest.” (page 12)
This quote ties together with the first quote I chose from page 8. I believe this quote is also a perfect example of what Johnson describes as privilege. We must not have a SCWAAMP attitude and consider ourselves privileged. As the quote says, we must “consider arguments that justify conclusions that conflict with [our] own predispositions and self-interest.” We must not let outside influence or what we thought we knew come between learning something new and possibly mind-changing. Yes, we can make a difference in our service learning placement but I also believe the students can make a difference in our lives.

Points to Share/Questions to Ask:

As the article says, many conduct service learning activities for charity purposes. How do we not walk into a classroom or other community organization feeling pity for those we are helping? It is easy to walk into our placement, especially after hearing the way people describe the neighborhood, feeling as if we are the only help these people have. We must realize that, yes we can help them, but we shouldn’t treat them any different than we would anyone else. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Dorothy!

    I love the quotes that you chose and the reason that I also chose to do quotes for my talking points this week was because of your blog. This was a very difficult reading that I also had a hard time getting through but your blog inspired me to find three quotes that spoke the most to me and reflect on it. Nice job and thanks for your help!