Diversifying the Curriculum and Combatting Ageism through Service Learning

By Evelyn Pezzulich.

Published by The Diversity Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

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

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 7, Issue 5, pp.115-120. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 506.289KB).

Dr. Evelyn Pezzulich

Chair, English Department, School of Arts and Sciences, Bridgewater State College, Bridgewater, Massachusetts, USA

I am presently a professor at Bridgewater State College in Massachusetts where I specialize in teaching British literature and women writers. My current research interests include age studies and dress studies and how the two intersect in that fashion is often used to symbolize how female characters adapt to the onset of a new life stage. More recently, through a course development grant, I have become interested in service learning. My emphasis has been on using it as a means for students to relate classroom knowledge to intergenerational experiential knowledge and to combat ageism. I have published in both areas of age and dress studies.

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