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'Politics in the School': Assessing a Brazilian Service Learning Experience Since 2005
Unformatted Document Text:  philosophy of teaching as well. What began as a seemingly isolated act of political commitment on the part of a couple of dozen students now returns to the university classroom. This paper is our second attempt review the motives for embarking on “Politics in the School” in the first place and reflect on the concrete results. From the side of the university students, “Politics in the School” intended to be a decisive element in the formation of political science majors (and others) at UnB. Those participating in the project could be seen as building on the content of their own curriculum, elaborating a set of fundamental concepts and notions dear to political science as a discipline. Those involved in the activity tend to concentrate among students in their initial semesters at the University. It is hoped that as “Politics ... “ moves to deepen its work around democracy and representation, more students will be drawn to the mix. The resulting experience with poorer suburban communities and their perceptions and demands about politics could also stimulate more academic research in the community. Thus, the proposal is not to “intervene” in the political reality of the school children or to “lecture” new values, but to bring basic political information to their experience in simple and engaging ways, without disrespecting their original notions. As a project elaborated by Political Science majors, the natural objective is to develop the concepts to which they were originally exposed in the classroom in a way that questions and expands notions of citizenship and politics for the participating elementary students. But from the university community, there is also a deeper objective: to discover that political science students and faculty have a social responsibility in constructing a more conscious and collective political community. Civic consciousness runs both ways. In discussing elections, voting, political parties and representation, debates are brought home to the B.A. program. While some of the university students might see themselves primarily as the teachers, they are teaching themselves as well. The students assume a pedagogical role, but with a participative and interactive bias. The history and concrete political experiences of the children are always taken into account in designing and conducting activities. Stimulating and rewarding any form of their participation is the goal. From a research standpoint, the eventual goal is to develop more systematic studies of the results of the project to be made public to the schools and others. Theoretical work also needs to be reinforced during the coming academic year, although project participants have already produced independent research (Marques dos Santos 2007, Silva 2007). A rapid search of recent literature suggests that “Politics in the School” resonates with concerns of relevance, engagement, and participation voiced in the larger profession (Gregory, et.al. 2001, Dicklitch 2003, Dudley and Gitelson 2003, Galston 2004). The project also seems to echo concerns about the positive reciprocal effects on the university participants (Kirlin 2002, Metz and Youniss 2003). The students need to lead themselves through the literature on early political socialization and political psychology. Research like that generated at this conference should also be a target concern. Ultimately, ethical and ideological debates surface (Snyder 2001) which no doubt will find a hearing in this project. Political science is permeated with diverse and divergent political

Authors: Groth, Terrie.
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philosophy of teaching as well.
What began as a seemingly isolated act of political commitment on the part of a couple of
dozen students now returns to the university classroom. This paper is our second attempt review
the motives for embarking on “Politics in the School” in the first place and reflect on the
concrete results.
From the side of the university students, “Politics in the School” intended to be a decisive
element in the formation of political science majors (and others) at UnB. Those participating in
the project could be seen as building on the content of their own curriculum, elaborating a set of
fundamental concepts and notions dear to political science as a discipline. Those involved in the
activity tend to concentrate among students in their initial semesters at the University. It is
hoped that as “Politics ... “ moves to deepen its work around democracy and representation, more
students will be drawn to the mix. The resulting experience with poorer suburban communities
and their perceptions and demands about politics could also stimulate more academic research in
the community. Thus, the proposal is not to “intervene” in the political reality of the school
children or to “lecture” new values, but to bring basic political information to their experience in
simple and engaging ways, without disrespecting their original notions.
As a project elaborated by Political Science majors, the natural objective is to develop the
concepts to which they were originally exposed in the classroom in a way that questions and
expands notions of citizenship and politics for the participating elementary students. But from
the university community, there is also a deeper objective: to discover that political science
students and faculty have a social responsibility in constructing a more conscious and collective
political community. Civic consciousness runs both ways. In discussing elections, voting,
political parties and representation, debates are brought home to the B.A. program. While some
of the university students might see themselves primarily as the teachers, they are teaching
themselves as well.
The students assume a pedagogical role, but with a participative and interactive bias. The
history and concrete political experiences of the children are always taken into account in
designing and conducting activities. Stimulating and rewarding any form of their participation is
the goal. From a research standpoint, the eventual goal is to develop more systematic studies of
the results of the project to be made public to the schools and others.
Theoretical work also needs to be reinforced during the coming academic year, although
project participants have already produced independent research (Marques dos Santos 2007,
Silva 2007). A rapid search of recent literature suggests that “Politics in the School” resonates
with concerns of relevance, engagement, and participation voiced in the larger profession
(Gregory, et.al. 2001, Dicklitch 2003, Dudley and Gitelson 2003, Galston 2004). The project
also seems to echo concerns about the positive reciprocal effects on the university participants
(Kirlin 2002, Metz and Youniss 2003). The students need to lead themselves through the
literature on early political socialization and political psychology. Research like that generated at
this conference should also be a target concern.
Ultimately, ethical and ideological debates surface (Snyder 2001) which no doubt will
find a hearing in this project. Political science is permeated with diverse and divergent political


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