and to challenge stereotypes. For many, it might be enough to realize children learn differently and to gain techniques to reach them. For some, service learning might serve as a springboard for further community involvement. For all, service learning engagements often are too short to motivate major conceptual shifts or to spur activism.
Finally, learning from service learning extends to community relations. For example, relationships with my community partners tend to strengthen and deepen over time. Trust develops. Care ensues. Over time, I express my intentions and intervene more strongly. I learn which placements assist affirmative perceptions or assert compensatory views and change future placements accordingly. The development of community relationships takes time, but no more than that necessary to interact with teachers and schools. It is a matter of focus and priority.
The verdict is still "out." Constructions of meaning do evidence some thoughts of noblese oblige. There is a savior mentality that undermines equality. However, it does not follow that there are inherent problems with service learning. In this case, preservice teachers remained open to reconsideration of deficit or supremacy views. Potentially, an instructor can strongly support rethinking through reflective exchanges and class activities. Perhaps we, multicultural educators, need to remain open too: What can we learn about service learning? It is premature to denigrate a perspective and method that connects multicultural education with the communities it is intended to serve.
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Boyyle-Baise M., & Sleeter C. E. ( 2000). Community service learning for multicultural education. Educational Foundations, Spring, 1-18.
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