Friday, March 12, 2010

In the Service of What? The Politics of Service Learning by Joseph Kahne and Joel Westheimer

This article offers two views of service learning: one based on altruism and the other on critical and pro-active thinking.

"Mr. Johnson's curriculum included only minimal attention to any systematic analysis of the ills his students were helping to alleviate."
This kind of approach focuses on altruism and individual acts of kindness. It helps the students be able to relate to underprivileged members of their communities and fosters the development of self-esteem. Although this approach has many benefits and helps create more caring and involved citizens, Kahne and Westheimer argue that it does not create positive changes on the broader scale.

"Ms. Adams' students, by contrast, began their work with a systematic and critical analysis of the causes of homelessness and of the strategies employed to prevent it. "
This kind of approach focuses more on understanding the problem and learning about how to combat it at its roots instead of alleviating the effects. I think this can be much more affective in the long run than the previous approach. However, I think that it would not be good if all the students did was learn about theory and never actually went out to serve the homeless people. Altruism and charity are still important, and help create more caring citizens who will understand the need by experiencing it firsthand and will be more likely to initiate reform in the future. I think both charity and critical analysis should go hand in hand when it comes to service learning.

" is the combination of service and critical analysis, not either by itself, that seems most likely to promote interest in and insight into these complex social issues."
I definitely agree with this statement. It really takes both to get the most benefit out of service learning. I feel like by itself, each approach is a dead end, but together service and analysis can foster the kind of change this country needs.


  1. Yana,
    I agree with how you explained your last quote. I believe it does take both sides to benefit.

  2. Yana,
    i love the quotes you choose the really support and explian the article. it affects both parties in a postive way and that is important.

  3. I like the first quote that you chose Yana and the point Kahne and Westheimer are trying to make. Though the experiences and benefits are great, bigger change in the community is not achieved through Mr.Johnson's approach.

  4. HI,
    I liked all your quotes and I agree with you on the last quote you do need both service and critical analysis to have a successful service learning project.