Examples from My Own Service Learning Experience

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According to Kahne and Westheimer there are tow types of service learning experiences, charity and change. The charity model is described as a service learning experience that focus on helping those in need; but without producing any effort to try to change the situation that affect those who are being help, in this way maintaining the status quo or how things are. Leaving things how they are creates societal reproduction or the act of repeating the way of individuals interact with social systems. In contrast the change model as the name implies it; it’s a service learning experience that focuses on social transformation, helping and changing the societal situation of those in needs. In this Blog entry my main purpose is to offered examples from my own service learning experience that demonstrate how my experience focus in the change model.

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One of the main goals of the change model is caring. Caring is creating connections with the people you are helping, connections that would drive a need in the individual to change the situations that affect those being help. As a tutor my job is to sit with groups of diverse students that belong to different races and societal backgrounds, for a determine amount of time, and review with them the concepts that were thought in the class or play different games that help reinforce those concepts. These students are selected because there are believe to be in need of more help than other student in the class. This means that I normally work with the same students every time I visit the classroom. After a couple of days I not only remember each student name, I also remember there main and specific problems regarding spelling or letter recognition, but most importantly and maybe unintentionally I know their favorite TV shows, favorite color, and what they eat for breakfast that morning. I learned about their lives, I learned about their cultures; both the family culture that was past down to them, and there own culture as children. In this way I create a relationship with them.

I stared to notice how creating relationships with my students connects with the need of helping to change their situations, when I was working with a student that I’m now going to call Pedro. Pedro is known in the class as the child that “never does anything”. Pedro normally spends the class time sitting in his table and staring at the class assignments given by the teacher with no intention or desired to do any of the work. While his classmate work hard in coloring pages or tracing their names into pieces of paper, he stares at his work sheet or gets distracted by talking to his classmate sitting next to him. Besides the many efforts of the teacher to keep Pedro o track the result is always the same. Everybody finish their assignments while Pedro is branded with accusations of never caring enough to do anything.

I have worked with Pedro on several occasions, and while working with him I noticed how promptly he could lose interest, if schoolwork is involved. Nevertheless I have also noticed how well he can do if he actually maintains interest in the work, and how proud he is when he finishes his assignments. So I made it made my personal goal to demonstrate to the teacher and others in the classroom that Pedro can be more that the child that “doesn’t care enough to do his homework”.

It was a regular school day an as usual the children were busy working in their in class assignments. Even thought I was occupied torturing student in a table separated from the other children’s in the classroom; I was aloud to have Pedro sit in my table while he worked in his in assignment. I paused my lessons several times to make sure he keeps paying attention to his work. I kept assuring him that he was doing a good job and the he should keep doing his work. I kept remained him how proud he would be when he was done. The end result was a completed assignment from Pedro from the first time science I stared my tutoring at the school. I felt so proud, but not as proud as Pedro however, that with a smile in his face showed me his work sheet several times demonstrating proved that he completed his assignment.

In this example the status quo was change when Pedro was seem as more than a careless child and was give the proper attention he needed, in this way no repeating the same process of accusations, labeling, and lack of help he had received before. The help that Pedro receive broke the societal reproduction or the act of repeating the way of individuals in his world interact with him, in this way societal transformation was born. However in order to continue with the progress Pedro not only needs my help but also the help of the teacher, and others in charge of his education.

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