This week’s article “In the Service of What?” by Joseph Kahne and Joel Westheimer was quite interesting, because it made think of different aspects regarding service learning that I didn’t think of before. While reading it I got see and think about the three domains that make it up which are the “moral, political, and intellectual” domains. Most importantly this article really made me think about my own service learning experience at Robert F. Kennedy Elementary School for FNED. As I read the article and reflected on my experiences I was confused on how to put my ideas together, but looking at the blog posts my other classmates had posted really helped me out, especially Sarah’s blog and therefore my blog post this week will be an extended comment based on what she posted. I just have to say that I really liked reading her post and the way she connected the article to events in her life such as being part of the Special Olympics in her town. She simply did a great job!
This is a video that talks about the impact that Inspiring Minds or VIPS have in our community, most specifically in Providence.
In her blog post Sarah did a great job connecting the article to her own life, and especially to experiences that have influenced her in wanting to “become an Elementary Education Major with a focus in Special Ed”. One of the main points that she makes throughout her post is that “Kahne and Westheimer are large believers in the idea that service learning should be able to teach you something, [and also how] they believe that in order to get the most out of your experience with service learning, you need to put yourself in the perspective of people that you are working with”. I can’t express enough how much I agree with this point that she made. In the article we were able to read about the “Two Service Learning Cases” in which both stressed “the importance of compassion for those in need, and encourage[d] children and young adults to find ways to help” and as much as both cases did show how help is provided to people in need, I do believe that if we do not put ourselves in the place of the people we are helping then we are not really creating a long lasting lesson or change. The clear example of this is Ms. Adams’ students. Her students were able to build a complete experience because they began “their work with a systematic and critical analysis of the causes of homelessness and of the strategies employed to prevent it”. I feel that by being informed of what can be some of the causes of homelessness and reading about the struggle that those people go through makes students and others in general want to help out in a more genuine way.
I have to say that reading Sarah’s post made me want to find out more about the Special Olympics in her town. I was glad to read about the great experience she had and the impact that it had in her to the point that it influenced her in deciding a major. I feel that sharing experiences with special needs children is what caused that impact in her, rather than if she just read about disabilities. For instance in my case, my best friend is blind, and seeing her struggle and the way she deals with her blindness makes me want to her out as much as I can, and not only her but every single person that I can. Now when I volunteer at camps for blind students I do it because I have a bigger desire for it not just because I want to be an altruist.
Additionally, another main point that Sarah made was that she thinks that “everybody should be involved in service learning at some point in their life; and [that] it is important for high schools and middles schools to make service learning a graduation requirement”, and once again I agree with her. I think it’s important to have teachers like Ms. Adams, that create opportunities for their students to be informed about a certain aspect of our society that needs help, like homeless people, and find ways to help out. Therefore, I think it’s great that throughout our nation more and more states are requiring service learning or community service hours to their students as a school or graduation requirement. “For example, students in Atlanta must complete 75 hours of volunteer service to graduate, [and] Maryland now requires that all high school students perform 75 hours of community service prior to graduation or participate in an alternative district program approved by the state”.
Service learning is a great tool that students should be able to experience in order for them to learn and see things they would not been able to see otherwise, like the upper middle class students that went to perform at a poor elementary school nearby. Just like those students learned that “that people can be different” or that rumors can be false regarding certain people or neighborhoods, anyone else should be able to experience that.
What I would like to discuss in class would be if my classmates and I would have been able to choose another place to do service learning or community service at, what place would we have chosen and why. I wonder if they would be like Ms. Adams’ or Mr. Johnson’s students.