Several years ago when I created a college course on the literature of aging, I believed having students read literary texts about protagonists ranging from middle to old age would help combat ageism. Although the course was partly successful in this respect, some students still unconsciously characterized the elderly in stereotypical fashion. To remedy this I recently re-offered the course, adding a service learning component. This fostered student learning about the aging process not only through literature and from a theoretical perspective but through interaction with the elderly in the community. My goal was to help students more readily understand and relate to an aged population that remains largely isolated and invisible due, in part, to its absence in contemporary media. To this end, students in my class volunteered to participate in one of two service learning projects: the first a book club at the local senior center and the second a reading program for older seniors at the community nursing home. Students were required to make visits, keep a journal, and present a culminating reflective paper. The project was also assessed by both students and seniors.
|Keywords:||Ageism, Diversifying Curriculum, Service Learning|
Chair, English Department, School of Arts and Sciences, Bridgewater State College, Bridgewater, Massachusetts, USA
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