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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Romantics and Idealists Promoting Service Learning: a road to civic engagement?

There's no such thing as second class citizenship. That's like telling me you can be a little bit pregnant. -- H. Rap Brown
The majority of educators I have worked with have been optimists; even more, they have been – much in the traditional literary sense of the word – Romantics.
Romantic n. A person who, rather than seeing the glass as half empty, insists on seeing it as half full; even when it is only a quarter full.
This is probably the source, not only of their optimism, but of the substantial nurturant generosity they possess.

Many, many educators are also – in common parlance – Idealists.
Idealist n. A person who is willing to forego the appreciation of a job well done for the right to complain that it was not done perfectly.
The virtue of Idealists is their continual striving for betterment.

The promoters of service learning tend to be both romantic and idealistic: service learning will bring our now apathetic students back into civic engagement. And what is “service learning?” Though there seems to be some general sense that it supports citizenship education, there is little agreement on the many variations discussed. And, in addition, there are the political problems.

Service learning is as likely to help revitalize civic commitment on the part of our children as is health education about diet likely to reverse obesity. Not that it's a bad idea, but a lot is against it.


To examine these issues further, see Romantics, Idealists and True Service Learning


Cordially,
-- EGR