Service Learning as a Transgressive Pedagogy: A Must for Today's Generation

By Leonard, Angela | Cross Currents, Summer 2004 | Go to article overview

Service Learning as a Transgressive Pedagogy: A Must for Today's Generation


Leonard, Angela, Cross Currents


The phrases "curriculum infusion," "teaching/learning anti-racism," "teaching against resistance," and incorporating "diversity" or "multiculturalism" into the curriculum are all attempts to democratize, de-canonize, and open up traditionally Euro-centric teaching approaches in the humanities and social science courses. I have discovered within the last six years, that the best way to put these notions into practice is with the creation of a special topics course: The History of Violence in America. This course includes a challenging pedagogy, namely, service learning. The challenge is due to the fact that most of my students have been subjected to rote learning that is intended to ensure that they score well on standardized tests, or to the banking system of depositing knowledge which students regurgitate at the conclusion of the course, or as often articulated by them--to "give the teacher what he/she wants." More school boards are requiring their students to complete a certain number of community service hours before graduation from high school. Still, my observation of the students I teach indicates that before college, too few of them are being exposed to a transgressive method of service learning that intentionally generates critical thinking about cultural and social assumptions, specifically about structures of privilege, hegemonies of power, as well as about innovative strategies to arrest systemic violence or learn how to dialogue with others within their own and also in neighboring communities to create healthy living environments for both of them, "toward the good of a more equitable society." In fact, according to Eleanor M. Novek, "traditional hierarchical educational strategies do not encourage" these kinds of relationships or "liberatory pedagogies." (1)

Each semester I ask myself: are my students--a population of mostly white middle- and upper-class youths who hail from mostly mid-Atlantic states--prepared for a teaching methodology that challenges not only the ones to which they are accustomed, but one that inherently interrogates their access to certain opportunities that are inaccessible (or not readily available) to other members of our society? In my students' own words about depressed communities, women shelters, and middle schools, this paper highlights some of the benefits and outcomes from requiring students to perform twenty hours of service in a course entitled about violence in America. This transformative pedagogy inspires hope, promotes social justice, advocates agents of change, commitment to building community, and cultivating a universal recognition and respect.

My working definition of service learning is borrowed from Eyler & Giles:

       Service-learning is a form of experiential education ... where
       learning occurs through a cycle of action and reflection ... as
       students work with others through a process of acting and
       reflecting to achieve real objectives for the community and
       deeper understanding and skills for themselves. (2)

Suffice it to say, "service learning," sometimes understood as "community service," is not novel; indeed it is not original with me. Yet, it registers an air of curiosity. To the students, the service requirement initially seems odd in a course about violence. In fact, on the first day of classes, as I walk the students through the syllabus, I reach the service component with some hesitancy; for I know from past experience this additional commitment of time will initiate a small exodus. It is because my students are clueless at the start that the "service learning" component in this course works. Not until about mid-semester are students having epiphanies, either visually or conceptually, that bring into focus the link between serving in an underprivileged community and studying the repercussions of a history of systemic violence in the foundational institutions of our country.

Seeds are planted throughout the semester--during lectures, through essay assignments, in structured journal entries, during in-class discussions and reflections--that make possible the linkage between service and the materiality of the course. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Service Learning as a Transgressive Pedagogy: A Must for Today's Generation
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.