The reflection question that may never be removed from my very carefully crafted list of guided reflection questions

I recently attended a workshop about how we can deepen students' reflections, which was led by one of Wright State's experienced service-learning instructors, Karen Hayes.  I came away with a new reflection question to include in my arsenal.  In fact, I love this question so much that it may never be removed from my arsenal.  The question was posed by my colleague, Stephanie Dickey, in our small group discussion during the workshop.  She suggested that we should challenge students to think about their role in relation to the problem or issue addressed by any service-learning course.  She proposed that we should ask students "What is your personal responsibility in solving [insert problem or issue here]?" and perhaps, she suggested, that question could also be combined with "What is the government's responsibility in dealing with this issue?" Well.  When Stephanie proposed this idea, I had an "a-ha" light-bulb kinda moment. In particular, I like the idea of making students think about how "x" issue affects them.  In a sustainability course the answer might be clear.  Acid mine drainage, for instance, affects the quality of the water, which affects the health of those that live in the area.     However, for a problem or issue that may seem more "individualized," such as literacy, the answer may not be so clear.  I can imagine that our students might think that it doesn't really affect them that much if the neighbor down the street can't read above a 2nd grade level.   I'm sure as a college student, I probably felt that way.   But if I could get our students to think a little more about their neighbors, they might realize that if "that person" down the street can't read, they may not make a living wage.  If they don't make a living wage, they may rely more on public assistance.  And if they rely on public assistance, then taxpayers (the students) pay for that.  And "that person" might have a child that can't read.  And so the cycle may continue for future generations. Perhaps getting students to think a little more about how we're all connected, the world will become more us and less them.  Being a good citizen means thinking about these things, in my humble opinion.  We're all in this together folks, and I for one, plan to ask my students in the future "How does illiteracy in our community affect you?  Do you have a responsibility to fix this issue?  Explain your answer."  Even if the student doesn't realize how it affects them while they write their reflection, it can make for a very rich class discussion.

CategoriesCivic Engagement, Reflection, SL Models