Monday, April 22, 2013

Kahne and Westheimer: "In Service of What?"

Before taking FNED, I had never heard of "service learning" before. Kahne and Westheimer put forth this idea that service learning is so much more than just traditional leanring. In "traditional" learning, students sit at a desk, and the teacher stands in front of them. In my first year seminar class, we read an article that actually refers to this method of learning as the "banking method". This means that the teacher basically treats the students as a "bank" where he or she just deposits information and knowledge into the students. This method is the most widely used, but it definitely has its downsides. Traditional, or "banking" education, for the most part, elimates the chance for debate or discussion in the classroom. Because of this, skills like critcal thinking and problem- solving aren't taught to students in pratical ways; they never learn to solve problems for themselves.

In the article I read in FYS, the opposite of the "bank" method is called "liberating education". This "liberating education" is what Kahne and Westheimer refer to as "service learning". In this kind of education, there is more of a relationship that is established between teacher and student. The student is no longer a "container" in which the teacher puts all of his or her information. Instead, the teacher creates more of a community feel in the classroom, which helps to promote critical thinking and problem solving. This website defines service learning as "a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and stregthen communities." In this way, teachers are in service of making students be able to know what it means to be part of a community and to help others.

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