Service Learners and Their Sites: Exploring Four Primary Tensions

Student Complaints

"Sites aren't prepared for us."
"The work isn't meaningful."
"There's not enough structure!"
"I wasn't really needed..."
"I need more site choices."
"The time expectation is unfair!"
"It costs too much time in my already full schedule."
"There's not enough time to really make a difference."
"It just doesn't fit into my schedule."
"I don't get enough time with site staff."
"I wasn't adequately prepared."


Site Complaints

"These students' hearts aren't invested."
"We're too busy for dead weight!"
"They're not here long enough to justify the administrative burden."
"By the time they are up to speed, the semester is over."
"They're just here because they have to be, then poof! they're gone."
"You lose 'em over Thanksgiving, you lose 'em over Christmas, you lose 'em over Spring Break..."
"You get a lot one semester and adjust to it, and then you get none the next..."
"I don't have enough time to do right by them."


The Four Furies

(Video links)

Student focus on: Agency focus on:


Transcending Tension

"Intentionally confronting the discomfort is a fruitful, albeit challenging, path. In fact, it is this very dissonance and its associated difficulties that give service-learning much of its potential as a transformative pedagogy, and make it suck a vital component of education in the 21st century."


Tension is the Midwife for Adaptation


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