ERIC Number: ED375521
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1994-Jun
In the Service of What? The Politics of Service Learning.
Westheimer, Joel; Kahne, Joseph
With the current interest and allocation of resources accorded service learning comes a growing need to clarify the varied ideological perspectives on school and society that underline service learning activities and programs. Drawing on an evaluation of Stanford's Service Learning 2000 project and on a rhetorical analysis of policy talk on service learning, this paper proposes a conceptual scheme that highlights these complexities. It seeks to clarify the ideological, political, and social goals and assumptions embedded in the policy and practice of service learning. Two examples of service learning projects funded in part by the Stanford Service Learning 2000 minigrants program are highlighted. Data were obtained from interviews with and surveys of teachers and students, classroom observations, and project reports submitted by the teachers. The first project stressed charity and the cultivation of civic duty and altruism among the students. The second project focused on transformative education, using systemic and critical analysis to bring about social change. Findings distinguish among the moral, political, and pedagogical goals that motivate supporters of service learning--the moral domain, the political domain, and the pedagogical domain. Although charity is an admirable goal, educators must ask the questions "who and for what?" By focusing on charity rather than change, by emphasizing noncontroversial issues, and by framing controversial issues in noncontroversial ways, educators forego many opportunities for meaningful, reflective analysis and transformative experiences. By linking social analysis and action, service learning frameworks can facilitate powerful educational experiences. (LMI)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Research; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (New Orleans, LA, April 4-8, 1994). Print is of uneven quality.