Even before putting Spring 2013 to bed, planning and prepping for next academic year is well under-way and under serious deadline. Fall 2013 promises to be as challenging as the last two years of teaching, not only because this adjunct will technically have three new entire preps to teach. Truth being, yours truly has taught one of the courses two or three years ago, the fact is a new prep is no longer a new prep only after the third sequential time around. Next academic year like the previous two will be an acrobatic feat that entails schooling both incoming freshman and exiting seniors in the same semester though in different courses.
Forefront on the mind is the service learning or community engagement required in the senior capstone course, and questions such as the following brim with possibility:
- how do we serve our communities without letting our ideologies and personal narratives skew our engagement?
- how do we learn from the communities serve?
- how do we integrate senior-level research and synthesis with the academic materials covered in the classroom, so that connections are organic and consistent throughout the semester?
The course requiring service learning is Liberal & Civic Studies 124: Democracy & Active Citizenship, detailed below:
This last Liberal and Civic Studies course is dedicated to your futures – to investigating possibilities and discussing potentials for your lives beyond Saint Mary’s. “Come to learn, learn to serve” is a cornerstone of the Lasallian tradition. How do you translate your experience into a life of civic and global engagement? What does social justice action look like now? This course invites you to apply the wealth of your learning at St. Mary’s towards the good of the community and to think about how active American citizenship affects the world. Previous Liberal & Civic Studies courses have explored issues of community, diversity, the environment, and the arts. These courses have given you experience in the process of self-assessment and have provided you with two very different service-learning experiences, one in direct service, and the other in systemic service. They have also promoted critical and integrative thinking skills. This class will bring together all of these themes, but with the difference that we will examine them from the perspectives of democratic principles and issues. Your service-learning work in this class will be organized as group projects to promote democratic skills of cooperation, communication, negotiation, and compromise. The class is not only a theme-based course, but a course in leadership skills.
Curriculum — required readings
Privilege, Power and Difference by Allan G. Johnson
The Constitution of the United States (http://www.usconstitution.net/)
The Rights of the People: How Our Search for Safety Invades Our Liberties by David K. Shipler
Voices of Dissent: Critical Readings in American Politics (9th edition) by Grover & Peschek
General thematic thoughts about how to frame (or maybe how not to frame course content) include ideas about unconscious tribalism, the problematic problem-solution paradigm, and bolstering a critical framework for the community engagement, which entails creating a service learning rubric.
Sources for these found here:
In addition to the above courses, the Fall 2013 teaching load includes two other classes, Seminar 2: Western Tradition I and English 3: Introduction to College Composition, each in two distinct programs, which isn’t freeway flying exactly, but teaching in three different programs requires different pedagogy, so maybe we can call this experience poly-pedagogic or the more boring multi-disciplinary.
It might not be technically true but sure feels like fall semester is already up and running.