My name is Hallie Kristalyn and I’m blogging here to talk about my favorite philosophy of education, Social Reconstructionism. Our ibook written by Dr. Perez describes the philosophy as, “…focused on looking at what is wrong in society and seeing how it can be improved. Therefore, the instructional methods used in the classroom are focused on problem solving, critical thinking, research, and cooperative learning (Webb et al., 2010). This philosophy is student centered. Educators who adopt this philosophy don’t lecture frequently, they facilitate student discussions, they guide the students in the correct directions, they utilize group work and activities, and they encourage students to form their own opinions based on what they’ve learned.
Although we were never in a ‘real’ classroom, this class itself employed Social Reconstructionism through our Current Topics in Education project. It led us to form our own opinions through deep thinking and self reflection and gave us the opportunity to share our opinion and have a type of online discussion where we could take in other people’s views and respond to them. In most of the classes I took for my English major, the professors were Social Reconstructionist educators. I know that this is one of the reasons I grew so much as a person during my time in college.
The article that was linked in our ibook, “Social Reconstructionism for Urban Students” by Daisy Frye Reed and Michael D. Davis, was my main inspiration for how to apply the philosophy to my classroom in a concrete way. The article talks about two types of service learning projects. The first “stresses the importance of compassion for those in need, promotes students’ sense of charity, develops their sense of altruism, and inculcates a sense of civic pride”(Reed and Davis). These projects include doing things like visiting nursing home residents, volunteering at the hospital, or collecting clothes for the homeless (Reed and Davis). The second type of service activity does all that the first type does but more. The second type includes a critical thinking aspect. It asks the students not only to volunteer and help with their time, but also a research element. It could also include a challenging discussion. If the act is to volunteer at a soup kitchen, then the second part of that would be leading the students to brainstorm reasons why people are homeless, getting them to emphasize with the issue and the people effected by it, as well as pushing them to come up with solutions or ways to better the issue.
Empathy and compassion for the homeless is something that I have recently required. Before college I was in the school of thought that homeless people generally deserved to be homeless. This honesty is hard for me to admit, now that I’m past that thinking. But it’s important for me to admit it, because there are many people, many students, out there who may not be touched by this issue. They, like me a handful of years ago, may not have developed a compassion for the homeless. They may have never thought deeply about the systems of government or the poverty or the lack of veteran support or the mental health stigma that may have led the homeless to their current state. Elementary students won’t be able to completely comprehend all of the reasons I just listed. However, I believe that I can still get a conversation started. I can still spark something in them that leads them to think harder about the issue and to have more compassion. I would run a food drive/ clothing drive/ hygiene item drive…whatever my community had a need for. I would also spend time in the classroom facilitating a discussion after watching this video. I think this video is simple enough to provoke thought and discussion even at the elementary level, as long as I am ready to facilitate it with questions such as “do these people match the way you thought homeless people looked?”, “are you surprised about these people’s interests / lives / etc”. This service project will help my students think critically about solutions to homeless, it will have them thinking more compassionately. It will make them imagine themselves in someone else’s shoes. It will give them a sense of purpose and pride, to be having a successful food/clothing drive.