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Educational Research for Social Change

On-line version ISSN 2221-4070

Abstract

MATTHEWS, Sally. Privilege, poverty, and pedagogy: reflections on the introduction of a service-learning component into a postgraduate political studies course. Educ. res. soc. change [online]. 2017, vol.6, n.2, pp.45-59. ISSN 2221-4070.  http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/2221-4070/2017/v6i2a4.

This paper reflects on the experience of integrating a service-learning component into a postgraduate course in political studies. The course in question aims to get students to reflect on the ways in which poverty and privilege are tied up with each other, and on whether and how the relatively privileged can be involved in helpful ways in struggles against oppression. The service-learning component involved spending a week volunteering with a rural community-based organisation. Students were required to relate their volunteering experience to the course content. The paper reflects on the implications of the course's failure to live up to many criteria for quality service-learning, arguing that despite its failings, the service-learning experience significantly enhanced the learning of the students and also my own learning as an educator. I show that the nature of this learning calls into question some possible assumptions about how service-learning ought to be done. The paper contributes to ongoing discussions about the ways in which service-learning can assist in the achievement of social justice-related goals.

Keywords : service-learning; social justice; privilege; community engagement.

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