Sunday, October 18, 2015
In the Service of What? by Kahne and Westheimer (Argument)
Kahne and Westheimer's argument is service learning to promote change, not charity. The authors discuss different service learning projects throughout the article and focus on how most are about the charity of the act rather than the interest to make a change. One example that really stuck out to me was a girl who volunteered at a Veterans' Memorial Senior Center for Thanksgiving. Her and her stepmother served Thanksgiving meals to the seniors and at the end of her experience she mentioned how nice it was to see these veterans get together and make the holidays a little less lonely since they often don't have family near by.
"This experience and other like it, quite common in the literature of service learning, emphasize charity more than change. The experience was structured to promote giving rather than to provide the kind of understanding needed for the development of caring relationships. As a result, the student's descriptions of the event lacked the perspective and input of those she was helping." (Kahne and Westheimer 7).
Though the girl completed an act of kindness in serving these veteran seniors, she did not get to know them and learn about their circumstances and figure out ways to help them long term rather than one day. Many students complete community service or service learning assignments as part of classes or for religious reasons. They often participate to get the grade or complete their required hours but they often don't learn from it. They see the impact they have while they are there but do not continue with it once their requirements are complete. This is what Kahne and Westheimer were talking about. The service learning assignments have mostly become about charity rather than change. The youth often feel putting in their time is enough rather than trying to make a difference.
Many schools are now trying to require service learning into their curriculum and even a requirement to graduate. By making it a requirement, the students don't take anything from it. They know they need to complete it in order to graduate and don't put any effort into it. Rather than learning from those they work with, they do what they are told just to finish. This relates to our service learning in this class. It is a requirement for the class but I am trying to get the most out of it. I want to learn the different teaching styles and the different students to be able to use it in my future career as a teacher. This past week, I was working with my fourth grade group and they asked if I remember their names and I went around and remembered them all. One student spoke up to me and said I learned their names fast and she was very impressed. They now take me a bit more seriously because I took the time to remember them and our small group time is fun. This is what Kahne and Westheimer argue service learning is about. It is about taking time to do charity but also make an effort to make a change.