Educational Philosophy

Educational Philosophy

The Service Learning Program at San José City College is an educational   support program. Its mission is to create a lasting partnership between the   college and the community that fosters continuing discussion between both parties   so that the Project   is directly responsive to and shaped by the community.   The Program is a bridge between global and local, theory and practice, teaching   and administration, and teaching and research. What we seek to develop in the   student is a new understanding of these relationships and how they transform   the individual activities or domains they encompass and how they reframe our   understanding of the relationship between the college and the community.

Experiential learning is a pedagogical tool available to instructors to further   their classroom goals. Current learning theory indicates that all students do   not learn in the same way. Some learn best through observation or discussion   first, while others prefer action first. Sensitive instructors teach using multiple   modalities to effect better learning by their diverse learners. Service learning   is a powerful tool for effective learning by many students. When instructors   offer such an option, they also empower students to be responsible for choosing   how they learn best.

In many respects, experiential education resembles community service. We do   send students out into the community to work with agencies in the service of   often neglected people, in schools, and in other community programs. While we   use experiential education to develop skills and abilities, we also use service   learning to foster a paradigm shift in the minds of the students, the result   of which is significantly altered world views. Our purpose is to provide students   with personal experiences quite different from their own so that their perceptions   of the world will expand and become more accurate.

Participants go into the community as students. They go to listen and explore,   question and wonder, observe, feel and experience. That is why their work is   not adequately described as community service. So they will have sufficient   time for these activities, we place them in agencies that do not rely on them   for survival, and we have them work in an unstructured capacity -- because they   are there primarily to learn. As volunteers, we are in a position of giving   to the community, a position of strength. But as students, we relinquish the   role of "giving."

Students must wrestle with questions that are not necessarily within the purview   of the volunteer. Rigorous analysis and investigation into what causes and supports   homelessness, bigotry, homophobia, sexism and racism, inequities in pay between   men and women, and a whole host of other ills that affect our society, are the   appropriate domain of the student. Students are challenged to intellectually   evaluate the structures of our society to see how well they respond to the needs   of all humankind. That is why we send them into the community, and that is what   makes this an intellectual enterprise.

Every placement is designed in such a manner that each of the students develops   a personal, one-to-one relationship with a person in one of our target populations.   This personal interaction initiates a chain of events and experiences that challenges,   sometimes dramatically, the ideas, attitudes and backgrounds often cherished   by the students. In the process, students will frequently perceive a role reversal,   realizing that the person they have come to "help" has become their   guide to a larger, more accurate and complex orientation to reality and opens   them up to the full range of human experiences.

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