Teaching and learning through civic engagement: Prospects for sustainability in teacher education

Boland, J. (2010) Teaching and learning through civic engagement: Prospects for sustainability in teacher education. pp. 1-20. ISSN 03137155 (ISSN)


This paper considers the prospects for sustainable service/community based learning as an element of a civic engagement strategy within the context of teacher education. It draws on findings of a study of the policy, process and practice of embedding civic engagement in the higher education curriculum in Ireland and the author's experience implementing service learning in initial teacher education. The significance of underpinning rationale, as exemplified in academics' orientation to civic engagement, is explored. The benefits to be gained from strategic alignment with institutional and national policy developments are highlighted. A typology of organisational arrangements for service/community based learning is offered to help explore the relationship between complexity, sustainability and potential for reciprocity. Certain features of the context of teacher education - the focus on development of values and dispositions, the centrality of civic values to the profession and teacher educators' familiarity with the practice of reflection - bode well for the prospect of a sustainable pedagogy which reflects the values associated with reciprocity, diversity and social justice. The inherent challenges associated with developing and maintaining collaborative partnerships, however, may limit the potential for mainstreaming service/community based learning within the curriculum for all student teachers.

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