OCE Newsletter: last updated 01/14/2014
By Dr. LeQuez Spearman, Assistant Professor of Recreation and Leisure Studies
As a first year professor at Gordon College, I was ready to hit the ground running with both experiential and service learning opportunities for the students in my Recreation Leadership course.
As a first-semester doctoral student, I was exposed to service learning by Dr. Barbara Thayer Bacon, professor of cultural studies at the University of Tennessee. My final grade in a course with Dr. Thayer was contingent upon on a self-directed service-learning project that culminated in a 30-page paper and a high-stakes end-of-semester presentation. I chose to complete my service learning experience at the Knoxville Area Rescue Ministries, where I ultimately rid myself of biases against the homeless, all of whom were disenfranchised because of circumstances beyond their control. I began to understand how market forces such as post-Fordism and late capitalism co-exist to crater Western economies, pushing millions of Americans to the margins of society.
Fast forward four years: I implored my students to use class concepts, i.e. transformational, transactional, and servant leadership, when writing and finally directing their lesson plan at the activity day back in October.
On that brisk October day, we hosted more than 80 fifth-graders from the E. J. Harrington Elementary School in Lynn, Massachusetts, at our Brigham Athletic Complex. From my students’ written reflections and feedback from students and teachers at the elementary school, I would venture to say that our activity day was a success. I look forward to working again with the Office of Community Engagement in the near future.
By Emily David ’15
A couple months ago my Recreation Leadership class had the opportunity to lead a day of recreation for the fifth-graders of Harrington Elementary School. Our goal was for it to be more than just a day of sports, but a day for the students to learn and lead. When the day came it was a beautiful one, and we were eager to play games and get our heart rates pumping and our bodies moving. We split the students into four groups and played team kickball, blind obstacles courses and team challenge games.
As I watched with my whistle in my mouth, ready to announce the changing of games, I realized that our plan had one major lapse. We only accounted for what we could teach the students. I never thought that I would walk away from the turf field learning something myself. The kids of Harrington Elementary have mastered a very important skill of life—a skill that I think many adults miss today. The skill is joy. As I stood watching everyone playing, I saw joy. I look back now and realize that as college students we shared with them how to be active, the importance of exercise, and of looking ahead to college, and they shared with us how to experience everything with enthusiasm and joy.