As I was reading through everyone's blog posts on "In Service for What?" by Kahne and Westheimer for this week, Sarah's really hit home for me! Her ideas were pretty much everything I was going to choose to elaborate on for this blog, so I thought why not do my first extended comments piece?
The quote which states that "learning and service reinforce each other and should come together in America's schools" is extremely important, and something I have realized are more intertwined together than we think. Service Learning projects were created for people to come together with their community, make changes, learn from others, move out of their comfort zones, and help them become better people and have different mindsets about the world around them. I agree with Sarah when she says that it is so great to read about such a widespread involvement towards Service Learning projects all around the country; where people are becoming advocates for helping the people of their community.
Throughout this article, I really wanted to answer the questions asked on page 2 of this reading. The first one was "What values do service learning curricula model and seek to promote?"
I know firsthand from working in my second grade classroom at Times Squared Academy that that these projects model what it is like to be a teacher; and how it is to work in areas where the children have such cultural backgrounds and experiences that shape the way these schools run. The projects promote learning through others, engaging with children, learning about different cultures and experiences, and forming an idea of what kind of teacher we want to be in the future.
"What kinds of relationships develop between students and those they serve?"
Like Sarah, I found myself reflecting upon my service learning project the entire time I was reading this article. I really liked how Sarah said that Service Learning is all about perspective: you need to put yourself in the shoes of whoever you are working with, and you need to allow the project to help you learn who you are, who you want to be, and who you can be to be an advocate for others. Beyond this second grade classroom; I have volunteered at an inclusive preschool at the Trudeau Center in Warwick. This experience really shaped what I wanted to do with my teaching career; because I had the chance to work with children as young as infants to preschoolers. The children were so eager to see me and the rest of my class every week when we came in with activities and projects for them; and it always put a smile on their faces. It is great to do something for others and know that you could be a part of something that people truly look forward to.
Also, at Times Squared, I have been blessed with working with the most amazing class. They are kind, hardworking, and hilarious. They give me a piece of their lives and background to take with me every time I walk in the door; and I try to give the same back to them. They are so INTELLIGENT for their age; and have such great input on any topic we speak about. They have verified for me that I want to be a teacher and that I want to work with students who have these great differences and backgrounds that shape who they are. They have the utmost respect for me and their teacher; along with their classmates. It is a great, refreshing thing to see.
I love that Sarah really emphasized that every time we go to our Service Learning, we should think about the community we are working in. This goes hand and hand with the question asked in the article, which was "What kinds of social and political relations do they ask students to imagine?" These projects allow us to work with students who might be from a different social background and apply it to how we interact with them. We learn about a community separate from the ones we have known all of our lives. It also gives us time to think about how Service Learning is a widespread project done all across the country; where other people feel the same way we do towards their volunteer work.
"What kind of society does service learning lead students to work toward?"
I really loved Sarah's idea of EXPOSURE to something new and different from what we are used to, and I think it was a great ending point for her blog. I think every major at RIC (if they do not already) should participate in a project related directly to their major; so they can get a feel for what it actually is like and who they are as someone in whatever field they are studying. Service Learning allows us to work towards a society where everyone is interested in bettering the world around them, learning new things, sharing their culture, gender, race, experiences, etc., with others, and so much more. As Sarah said, this project shouldn't be a requirement to us; but instead something we are honored to be a part of.
Finally, I liked your video about the more sciency (cool new word I made up just for this blog) take on Service Learning, and how much it really impacts people and forms experiences for them that they will carry with them in life.