The Irony of Service: Charity, Project and Social Change in Service-Learning * Guaranteed minimum commitment of students' service hours to agencies * Agency commitment to a serious student internship program that would allow advanced Institute students to perform longer-term, indepth and more advanced service. Conclusion In a discussion of service at the 1994 Conference of the National Society for Experiential Education, Nadinne Cruz (1994) offered what seems to me the best definition of service I have heard. "Service," she said, "is a process of integrating intention with action in the context of a movement toward ajust relationship." Ifwe are to educate ourselves and our students in ways that lead us toward just relationships, one of the first steps must be developing our collective capacity to describe and analyze the intentions and actions that inform our work. Irony is, simply, the gulf between intention and action. In this paper I attempt to describe a central irony that can (and does) emerge in service-learning: the gap between the content and outcomes of our teaching, on the one hand, and the type of service in which we engage on the other. Should we approach service as a continuum or as a set of related paradigms? Is authenticity-the reverse ofironyto be found by structuring service-learning so that we grow or move in a particular direction, or so that we are challenged to self-consciously name and work more consistently within a paradigm of service? As educators, do we make explicit (and try to model) the need to change, or the need to become more ourselves? Do we advocate a way of doing service, or do we hold up choices? Is our concern the type of service activity that is done, or the integrity with which it is done? How do we know if we are moving toward justice? Imagining service as a set of related paradigms, each with the potential to move by a different path toward justice, seems to me a step toward overcoming the irony of service-learning, a way of stepping into and embracing the contradictions that often separate our intention from our action. And it seems to me that an understanding of service that is simultaneously more inclusive and deeper can open spaces for all of us to find more allies, deepen the conversations in the servicelearning community and find new ways to express and hear the hopes we have for the impacts we might make. References Boss, J. (1994). The effect of community service work on the moral development of college students, Journal of Moral Education, 23(2), 183-197. Breuer, R. & Nelson, F. (1992). Building ownership: A coach's guide to teaching politics. Minneapolis: Project Public Life. Catholic Church (1994). Catechism of the Catholic Church. United States Catholic Conference, Inc. Christian Conference of Asia (1980). Guidelines for Development. Singapore: Christian Conference of Asia. Cohen, J. & Kinsey, D. (1994). 'Doing Good' and Scholarship: A Service Learning Study, Journalism Educator. 48(4), 4-14. Colby A. & Damon. W. (1992). Some do care. New York: The Free Press. Cruz, N. (1994). Notes of the author, Reexamining service-learning in an international context, workshop, Annual Conference of the National Society for Experiential Education, Washington, D.C. November 11. Dewey, J. & Tufts, J. H. (1908, 1932). Ethics. New York: Henry Holt and Company. Dimock, H. G. (1981). Intervention and collaborative change. Guelph, Ontario: Office for Educational Practice. Elden, M. & Chisolm, R. (1993). Emerging varieties of action research: Introduction to the special issue, Human Relations. 46(2), 121-142. Freire, P. (1981). Pedagogy of the oppressed, NY: Continuum. Geertz, C. (1973). Thick description: Toward an interpretive theory of culture, in The interpretation of cultures. New York: Basic Books, Inc. 3-32. Giles, D.E. & Eyler, J. (1994a). The impact ofa college community service laboratory on students' personal, social and cognitive outcomes, Journal of Adolescence. 17, 327-339. Giles, D.E. & Eyler, J. (1994b) The theoretical roots of service-learning in John Dewey: Toward a theory of service-learning. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning. 1(1), 77-85. Goodwyn, L. (1978). The Populist Moment. New York: Oxford University Press. Griffith, E. (1984). In her own right: The life of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. New York: Oxford University Press. Illich, I. (1968, 1990). To hell with good intentions, in J. Kendall (Ed.), Combining service and learning. Raleigh: National Society for Internships and Experiential Education. 1, 314-320. 31
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