This week, my class and I had the pleasure of getting to read two article that Stephanie chose for her presentation. I will say that both articles were interesting and engaging, but ultimately didn’t give as much as I oped that they would. It is inevitable that change is upon us and its necessary considering the current economic and political climate the world has found itself in. The discussions that need to be ongoing seem to be starting and stopping to say the least. I am glad that Stephanie chose this kind of overarching topic as it is both stimulating and timely.
The first article, “Principles for Practice: What is Social Action?” by Jennie Fleming and Ian Boulton began simply defining social action within the context that the authors were going to discuss is (more as a methodology for in-class teaching vs. society’s traditional view of the term). I chalked this article up to be about the ways in which educators can get students motivated and interested in the work that they are doing as learners and activists (whether they openly identify as activist or not… but they are!). The second article that I will mention later has the same message, to me, but talks more about service learning. I liked the idea in this first article about the inclusive nature of the practice of social action in the classroom, and how everything begins WITH the student. The authors point out that the process starts with the student’s understanding and replies on their endeavors.
I do agree with the authors in that anyone (if they are so inclined and willing) have the opportunity to create social change. I was even more ecstatic that Paolo Freire was brought into discussion. I usually always allude, at some point, to his work The Banking Concept of Education to get some point across. The banking concept mainly got across the theory that students are like receptacles that take in all of the information that educators *cough* oppressors already know and are going to relay unto them. basically, students aren’t collaborators with their teachers/professors; they are looked at as the individuals they do not possess the knowledge so they must have it bestowed upon them.
Any who, I appreciate the diagram of how social action is carried out: What, Why, How, Action, and Reflection. This is a straightforward way to get students thinking in a new way about the things that are going on around them. An attentiveness to awareness is crucial with the progression of life itself. I keep thinking back to the amazing Letters to the President project that Stephanie mentioned she did with her class and her joyous reactions and responses to how they were doing with that project. I felt she had understood that that project made an impact. Her students WANTED to do it, and more importantly they felt like they could… like they had a voice… like they mattered! They do! I feel that is a perfect example right there of the ways in which educators can start to incorporate these concepts into the classroom and get students motivated to learn again, but that is only the tip of the iceberg.
Speaking of motivation, I would like to move (briefly) into the last article I read for this week which was “Service and Self-Renewal: Service Learning as a Means to Invigorate and Renew Teachers” by Jeffrey D. Wilhelm, Whitney Douglas, and Sara W. Fry. An excerpt from Ralph Peterson showed up in this chapter from the authors, and he expressed some thoughts about the way humans learn and what it has to do with. Peterson stated that “the way we learn… has to mean something” (p. 111). I couldn’t agree more, and I wrote in my journal that I took notes in: “!!Motivation!!” because that is what it is all about. Now, this article didn’t really explain what service learning was, and I was disappointed by this. It gave all the reasons as to why service learning can be beneficial, but I wanted a set definition for what it is and what it means. Furthermore, the article gave examples of how this was taking place in schools and with families, which was great, but I found myself wanting more from this article too.
As aforementioned, I felt like this article could be chalked up to being about the ways in which educators can get students motivated and interested in the work that they are doing. The article touched on students being collaborators and engaged learned and Dr. Zamora’s (my professor) lovely face appeared in my head because I know she is for this and I personally experience this kind of identification and growth within myself as a student just from knowing her for the time that I have. Moving along, other than the 3 possible approaches teachers can use to implement this kind of learning in the classroom, there were two other highlights that I thought were very important. The first highlight was that of the idea of introducing new forms of learning, and how teachers are automatically set up to fail in some way or another. This is so important to note, and unfortunately, so common.
There was a discussion in class about this, and I believe Stephanie and MaryKate were the ones to bring it up where they alluded to the system (a particular school, education system, and its curriculum) having influence on what is able to be done/get done in that location. Stephanie alluded to hang more leeway to try out things with her students where MaryKate does not have the same benefits. There is a lot that has to go into being able to introduce something new to students, and it far exceeds having a willing and exciting teacher to do it. There are constraints. The second highlight was the section of the chapter that talked about connecting with parents. I feel like this is such a cliche phrase, but “learning starts at home”. This is true. However, learning should start at home and be an on-going process. Stephanie mentioned in discussion once that some parents put sole responsibility onto the teacher and that’s a lot of pressure. Learning starts and stops at school for some students, but that is an epidemic that needs to be stopped in the areas where it is far too present.
Overall, reading about service learning was insightful and I feel like I DID learn, but I found myself asking “So, what now?” after reading these article. I am now excited to learn more and do more, but I don’t feel like I have enough information or know of necessary tools to begin after reading both sections, which is okay… I just have to do more research now. I feel lien the authors could have done more. The examples towards the end of