Hi CCA Faculty and Partners!
I’m Nate Ivy, the Service-Learning Waste Reduction Coordinator for secondary schools in Alameda County and the Regional Lead for Service-Learning in San Francisco Bay Area. Prior to joining the Alameda County Office of Education, I taught American Studies in Irvington High School’s Center for the Creative Arts magnet program where I helped develop grade level wide interdisciplinary service-learning projects in 9th and 12th grades. I am keenly interested in the ENGAGE Project because it has the opportunity to create ‘social justice-oriented’ artists who explore the various and dynamic roles artists can play in our country.
As a nation, we are a country of contradictions–a collective people with a split personality. At the same time our native literature developed the transcendentalists and their appreciation of nature and harmony, our emerging industry sought to tame and exploit the environment. Similarly, our motto “E Pluribus Unum”- “Out of Many, One,” can be difficult to reconcile with our image of the “rugged individualist” of Horace Mann and Ayn Rand.
When considering questions of service and civic engagement, similar contradictions arise. Joe Kahne, the Dean of Education at Mills College and Joel Westheimer, Professor of Education at the University of Ottowa are two of North America’s leading researchers on youth civic engagement. In their paper, “In the Service of What?” Kahne and Westheimer challenge us to examine our motives for engaging students in service programs while highlighting the historical foundations for divergent beliefs about service.
The heart of Kahne and Westheimer’s provocative article highlights the different values and approaches behind service as charity versus service as social change. Charity based service can provide immediate relief, but often fails to get to the root of a problem. Charity based service often reinforces the privilege of service providers over service recipients and emphasizes the charitable nature of the individual.
Service as a means of social change is more difficult. It requires that people seek out the root causes of injustices in our communities and find ways to work together to solve them. Service as a means of social change is more likely to avoid projects that provide “service to” or “service for” communities and frequently requires a “service with” approach where communities work together in mutual support and advocacy.
Ultimately, service is a political act–both in the choices of problems to address and the approaches to solving those problems.
As you read the article, consider:
1) How does the article relate to the role of art, art making, and creativity in communities?
2) How can artists best serve their communities?
(For more from Kahne and Westheimer, you may also be interested in “What Kind of Citizen?” where they examine three types of citizens our society strives to produce.)
I look forward to reading your comments and hearing what you think of Kahne and Westheimer. Please post comments before Monday, March 22nd.
Peace, Nate Ivy