Sunday, March 15, 2015

"In the Service of What?: The Politics of Service Learning"


For this week's blog entry I chose to write an extended comment about Ana's post. Ana based her blog on three quotes from Kahne and Westheimer's piece. The three quotes that she chose were ones that I also found to be very important or interesting. The first quote was, "Altruism can be best appreciated as an experience rather than an abstraction." Ana, I also believe that helping the situation is more important and effective than learning about it, although, as you stated, both are important in their respective ways. I think both ways of learning can go hand-in-hand with one another. A good way to incorporate both the altruistic and abstract forms of learning, educators could discuss the problems at hand prior to, during, and after the students' service learning projects, much in the same style as this class. I think both styles of learning are important because some students learn through abstract ideas, while others are hands-on learners.

I found your comments about the second quote you chose to be really thought-provoking. I thought it was interesting how you said that your high school was more interested in girls not getting pregnant or boys not getting arrested. I feel like this is the case in a lot of public schools throughout the country. As we have learned, many children who reside in inner-cities do not have adequate food, clothing, school supplies, or other resources. I imagine it could be difficult to encourage students who do not have enough to help those who have even less than they do. But nevertheless, regardless of your situation, there is always somebody worse off than you and I think anybody can receive that benefits that come along with helping those in need. My high school required us to do community service and I still volunteer at the same food pantry I did back then. It is a truly rewarding experience.

I especially liked the third quote you picked, Ana. It sends a powerful message, stating that service learning removes the uncertainty and nervousness that surrounds interacting with anything that falls outside of our comfort zone. I liked the connection you made with the Johnson article. You made a very good point in stating how Johnson says that ignorance prevents us from helping the less fortunate. This article tells us that service learning can help everyone become less ignorant in regards to community service. It says how we all could learn a thing or two from this hands-on style of learning and that by incorporating a service learning aspect to the curriculum of our nation's schools, the world could start to become an overall better place.

Side note:
For me, this article raised the question, "Why is there even poverty in the first place?" Of course, while the purpose of the article was certainly not to set out to find an answer to this question, I couldn't help myself from asking it after I let this piece sink in. While providing assistance to the less fortunate undoubtedly creates a better (I couldn't think of the right word to use) society, it is only a small part of the solution to end global poverty. Fundamental changes must be made to every aspects of every society throughout the world before the issue of poverty is eradicated. I just don't know what those changes are. I found another excerpt by Allan G. Johnson called "Why Is There Poverty?" from The Forest and The Trees: Sociology as Life, Practice, and Promise. In it, as you'd expect, he examines the causes behind the issue of poverty. You can read it here.


  1. I really like, that you chose my blog as a platform for yours. I think you did a better job than me explaining those quotes. As usual you do an amazing job, and your way of relating your post to everyday life is magnificent. I truly enjoyed reading your blog.

  2. I think it's important to mention that there is the difference in those who learn altruistically and abstractly! Experience in the field during our service learning projects will prepare us to know how to identify ands help these different kinds of students.

  3. You did a great job commenting on Ana's post. I really like the side note you brought up - I also thought about this after reading the article.