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Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning Fall 1996, pp. 13-21 Education for Critical Citizenship: John Dewey's Contribution to the Pedagogy of Community Service Learning John Saltmarsh Northeastern University This essay explores John Dewey's contribution to the pedagogy of community service learning (CSL) and in doing so explores a conception of CSL that focuses on education for critical citizenship. Dewey's writings reveal five specific areas of contribution to service-learning: 1) linking education to experience, 2) democratic community, 3) social service, 4) reflective inquiry, and 5) education for social transformation. Together these contributions form the basis of a cultural and political critique and reconceptualized pedagogy aimed at the development of democratic values and critical citizenship. Some years ago when I was in the Adirondacks, I climbed Mt. Marcy, the highest peak of those mountains. There, near the top, is a marshy space with a little brook trickling down, apparently insignificant. A few rods away, after a slight rise of land, there is a second little brook, likewise apparently insignificant. I was told that the first one I speak of is the headwaters of the Hudson River; that the waters a short way off, separated by a watershed only a few feet higher than this swampy land, finally empty into the St. Lawrence. These little streams, that are hardly to be called streams but rather rivulets, at their source are only a few yards apart, but traversing very different lands and seeing very different scenes they finally reach the Atlantic Ocean hundreds of miles from each other. This metaphor for purposes of comparison is trite, yet it seems to me that in its way it is representative of what happens historically. Great movements are not often great in their beginnings. Taken in themselves, their inception is as seemingly insignificant and trivial as the little trickles of water at the top of that mountain. It is only when after long period of time we look back to see what has come out of these little beginnings, that they appear important; just as it is when we see the Hudson River after it has become a majestic stream that the small rivulet at the top of Mt. Marcy gains importance. (Dewey, 1932a, p. 99) I like this passage not only because of the inherent connectedness of an ecological metaphor, but because the purpose of this essay is to journey, as it were, up stream, to explore the source of a kind of education that addresses civic involvement. The aim of this brief discussion is to make explicit John Dewey's contribution to the pedagogy of community service learning (CSL) and in doing so explore a conception of CSL that focuses on education for critical citizenship. Dewey's writings inform service-learning through a philosophy of education, a theory of inquiry, a conception of community and democratic life, and a means for individual engagement in society toward the end of social transformation. While Dewey never specifically addresses "community service learning" as a term signifying a particular conceptual framework of education, his writings do analyze five specific areas of relevance to service-learning: 1) linking education to experience, 2) democratic community, 3) social service, 4) reflective inquiry, and 5) education for social transformation. Together, these contributions form the basis of a cultural and political critique and reconceptualized pedagogy aimed at the development of democratic values and critical citizenship. His writings also reveal that CSL is a pedagogy grounded in the philosophical tradition of American pragmatism, the legacy of which has increasingly impacted post-secondary education over the last decade (Kimball, 1995). Dewey's pragmatism - what he termed "instrumentalism" - was much like the watershed at the top of the mountain, a framework embedded in an ecology of relations and larger purposes. Philosophy, for 13
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