Dialogue on Writing: Rethinking ESL, Basic Writing, and First-Year Composition

By Geraldine Deluca; Len Fox et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 27
Community Service and
Critical Teaching
Bruce Herzberg

Bruce Herzberg is Professor of English and Chair of the Department of English at Bentley College in Waltham, Massachusetts. He served for many years as director of the expository writing program and writing across the curriculum as well. He is coauthor, with Patricia Bizzell, of The Rhetorical Tradition (2nd ed., 2001), Negotiating Difference (1996), and, with Bizzell and Nedra Reynolds, of the fifth edition of the the Bedford Bibliography for Teachers of Writing (2000). His articles on composition and rhetoric have appeared in a number of journals and anthologies. The following article is from College Composition and Communication, 45, October 1994.

“Capitalism with a human face, ” said our new provost, Phil Friedman. This was the way he hoped the United States would model capitalism for the new democracies in eastern Europe. It was, therefore, a motto for what the students at Bentley College, a business school, should be learning. My English Department Colleague Edward Zlotkowski challenged the provost to put a human face on the students' education by supporting a program that would make community service part of the curriculum. Friedman agreed and Zlotkowski took on the massive job of linking courses with community agencies. At first, the projects were simple: Students in writing courses visited soup kitchens and wrote up their experiences. Later, as the servicelearning program developed, students in accounting classes helped revise the accounting procedures of non-profit community-service agencies and audited their books for free. Students in marketing and business communication designed advertising and public relations materials to improve the distribution of agencies' services. And the students in one freshman composition class—mine—learned to be adult literacy tutors and went weekly to a shelter in Boston to offer their help.

There are many obvious benefits, to students and to the agencies and individuals they serve, from service learning. Many students become eager volunteers after the ice is broken by class projects and they see where they can go, how they can help. A surprising number of the students in my class, for

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