Towards a Transformative Service-Learning: A Pedagogical Handbook
Cox, Joseph M.
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Service-learning ts a learning method that has the potential to address the problems that arise when academia dismisses the learning generated by the community; thus, it is the answer for an increasingly isolated, irrelevant version of academia. The stock definition for service-learning is that it is the explicit integration of service experiences into the curriculum. This definition delineates well between service-learning, on the one hand, and the practice of adding community service requirements to a conventional course, on the other. However, this definition does not describe how service-learning must take the community's voice into account. Service-learning, in order to satisfy its potential, must require faculty, community, and students to share control of the project with each other. Shared control of the project does not mean that each controls an aspect of the project, but that all control each aspect; thus, power must be shared among the project's participants in making all decisions. The theories of the course, the service goals, the time on-site, the amount of reading, all of these are key aspects of a service-learning project, and therefore all of them are beyond the exclusive control of just one constituency of the project. Otherwise, none of these groups will be empowered by the others, and the destructive mistrustful model of campus-community relations will be perpetuated further.