This video helped me to gain a better understanding of the academic benefits
of student learning as well as reiterated the points made in the article
One of the sections of the article that I was able to connect with the most was when the music director had her upper-middle class students volunteer at an elementary school in a poor neighborhood. Many of the student's parents objected however. They were worried for their children's safety with concerns of rude, tough, unfriendly children on a dirty campus in a bad neighborhood. After they returned from the schools however the student's outlooks had completely changed. They found that they had been completely wrong, that the children were all polite and friendly and were surprised by their willingness to learn as well as their excellent behavior. One student even commented on how they had more respect for the neighborhood that they were once fearful of. Kahne and Westheimer point out that through service learning in a classroom, the students were able to create caring relationships with those in need as well as diminish the sense of "otherness" that more privileged individuals sometimes feel.
This experience in some ways reminded me of my own personal service learning encounters. Much like the students of this middle school, we have been asked to volunteer our time at schools in less privileged areas than most of us are accustomed to. I was not raised in an upper-class family without any financial cares, however my family has been able to get through life comfortably. When having to step out of the middle-class community that I was used to and enter a less fortunate neighborhood, I can not deny that I had some concerns. I had heard stories of South Providence not being the best area, so when I found that I would be volunteering my time at an elementary school there, I was slightly concerned with the safety of the neighborhood as well as if the students would be as willing to learn as the students in the elementary schools in my neighborhood. The first day at my assigned school, however, all of my fears went out the door. The students in my third grade classroom were all incredibly sweet and attentive. Their eyes light up when I walked into the classroom and as I began to tutor them, I instantly saw their impressive intelligence as well as their passion for learning. I left the school that day feeling completely ridiculous for having those prior concerns. Those concerns that I had once felt had been replaced with excitement to create a stronger bond with these students and hopefully have a lasting affect on them. I had realized that my involvement in the classroom displayed Kozol's message in "From Amazing Grace", entering a less-privileged classroom and helping students learn gives them the tools to create a better future for themselves. However, I might not be changing the world from my service learning experience, I hope that I can make a change in at least one individuals life. From my own personal service learning experience I have been able to create the caring relationship with my students that was mentioned in the article and I have felt more inclined to serve less fortunate communities.