Service-learning is "real in a way that goes beyond the theories and ideas in the class; there's actual application, relevance, and resonance when students see theory and ideas present in real social situations that matter to them.

Sue Ellen Henry, associate professor of education, welcomes real-world opportunities into her classroom and is a strong supporter of service learning.

She has taught a wide variety of courses in which service learning plays an important role. One course requires students to tutor local school children, two other courses each require 15 hours of service learning.

Henry’s students have participated in service learning in a variety of environments, such as public schools, prisons, and University offices. Henry says the opportunity to explore these areas “literally extends the walls of the classroom and gives a realism that is exceptionally difficult to replicate without [service learning].”

The addition of service learning makes the content of her class “real in a way that goes beyond the theories and ideas in the class; there’s actual application, relevance, and resonance when students see theory and ideas present in real social situations that matter to them.”

During her recent sabbatical, Henry spent time in two kindergarten classrooms. She says, “It was wonderful to spend that much concentrated time with young learners.” She is not unfamiliar with that challenge as she and her husband, Abe Feuerstein, associate professor of education, have three children under the age of six.

Luckily, she says, “I like it when something I learn or see in classrooms is present in my own home and vice versa. It makes the learning resonate with me.” 

Updated March 16, 2010

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