“Whose School is it Anyway?” Student Voices in an Urban Classroom

  • Raji Swaminathan


How do we engage youth in school and in the community? To what extent are student voices taken into account in structuring educational experiences? What can we learn when students’ perspectives are taken seriously in schools? Engaging students in school and the community and encouraging youth to believe in the “power of their ideas” (Meier 1995) are twin concerns of educators. Service-learning has been widely embraced as a way to engage students in school and community while critical pedagogy has been advocated as a means of encouraging student voices in the classroom. In this chapter, I describe a classroom at a high school where students reflected critically on their service-learning experiences as they questioned, analyzed, and critiqued the assumptions of what it means to do service. The resulting data show that for youth to be empowered through service-learning, it is crucial that their views be taken into account in structuring meaningful experiences. Second, the data reveal that creating spaces where students can reflect on their experiences within a critical multicultural framework provides a dynamic space of hope and possibility in schools.


Community Service White Student Community School Graduation Rate Service Learning 
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© Dan W. Butin 2005

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  • Raji Swaminathan

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