Having just completed my first institute with Cathryn Berger Kaye I want to take a moment to process some of my thoughts on service learning. In that spirit here are a couple possible definitions of service learning as I currently understand it. I wonder what other folks that joined me at the seminar or who have studied with Cathy in other contexts would have to say about these… Do they resonate? How do others “define” service learning???
1) Service Learning is any educational experience, successfully implemented, that seeks to effect positive personal and communal transformation however small.
2) Service Learning is an approach to curricular design and instruction that bridges the all-too-common gap between classroom learning and lived experience. In this respect it is both progressive and pragmatic.
3) Service Learning requires teachers, students, and administrators to recognize, embrace, and leverage their personal power to disrupt the status quo.
4) Service Learning is about helping students find their voice and their passion so that they might influence the scope and sequence of their education.
5) Service Learning is a pedagogic philosophy that emphasizes observation, curiosity, research, thoughtful planning, experimentation, and reflection all with an eye toward implementing positive interventions that come from the imaginative and caring intellect of individual students.
If you’re a student or teacher of service learning I’d really love your thoughts!