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Service Learning for Youth Empowerment and Social Change

Third printing


Jeff Claus and Curtis Ogden

This book presents informed current thinking on the topic of community service learning programs for youth, offering both veteran and new voices in the field. Combining theory and research with descriptions of innovative programs and specific recommendations for program design, the authors argue for an approach to service learning that engages youth not only in helping others but in critical reflection and the democratic pursuit of social reform. Topics covered range from the theory and practice of service learning to research and ideas about teacher preparation and educational reform. Contributors include the editors, Joan Schine, Joseph Kahne, Joel Westheimer, Jim Youniss, Miranda Yates, Carol Kinsely, Richard Lakes, Tricia Bowers-Young, Cynthia Parsons, Alice Halsted, Robert Maloy, and others.

«Bravo for Claus and Ogden, who offer us the right book at the right time. With service learning’s growth, we educators need to ask how this kind of program develops critical thought about the system we live in. Service learning can encourage social inquiry and democratic activism to change the world we are serving. This book is a teacher’s friend – to help us design empowering and transformative learning.» (Ira Shor, author of ‘Empowering Education: Critical Teaching for Social Change’ and ‘Critical Teaching and Everyday Life’)
«Today, when young people are either sentimentalized or demonized, we badly need precisely the sort of real and down-to-earth engagement with young people’s democratic capacities, talents, and energies that are represented by the new work of Jeff Claus and Curtis Ogden in ‘Service Learning for Youth Empowerment and Social Change’. This is a very serious, important book about a subject central to America’s future: how youth can help rebuild our democracy.» (Harry Boyte, co-director of the Center for Democracy and Citizenship, and author of ‘The Backyard Revolution’ and ‘Building America: The Democratic Promise of Public Work’)
«Jeff Claus and Curtis Ogden have assembled here some of the most thoughtful and perceptive observers and practitioners, educators, and school reformers; together they construct a notion of service learning based on sustained engagement not beneficent tourism, solidarity more than service, and learning toward a democracy that is participatory not passive.
What we find are classrooms immersed in the practice of democracy; projects built of, by, and for the people; education that takes a stand for a more peaceful and a more just social order. ‘Service Learning for Youth Empowerment and Social Change’ can serve as antidote and inspiration, pointing to service learning as propulsive and life changing, an enterprise suited for schools as they could be, but are not yet. This is essential reading.» (Bill Ayers, author of ‘Teaching for Social Justice’; ‘A Kind and Just Parent: The Children of Juvenile Court’; and ‘To Teach: The Journey of a Teacher’)
«Claus and Ogden and their contributors have created a great tool for educators who appreciate the need to re-imbed education in the life of our communities. In a world that can appear so overpowering to young people, this book offers practical ideas for enabling young people to develop a sense of their own agency and discover their capacities to contribute.» (Frances Moore Lappé, co-founder of the Center for Living Democracy, and author of ‘Betraying the National Interest’ and ‘Diet for a Small Planet’)
«Claus and Odgen raise important questions as we hear the rallying cry that students should be involved in service learning. They give us contours for the necessary dialogue of ‘why?’ Who are we serving? How will we best serve? Through action? Education? Charity? They also give us case studies to help us understand ‘so what?’
This book helps us see why many service-learning projects don’t achieve intellectual growth in participating students. The authors demonstrate that service projects vary in what they demand in terms of planning, engagement, and reflection, and they suggest that having voice, sharing in decisions, and engaging in dialogue are keys to personal and intellectual growth.» (Cheryl Keen, co-author of ‘Common Fire: Lives of Commitment in a Complex World’)