ESL curriculum with a heuristic anchorage: Tokenist discourses and the epistemology of community service education

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Curriculum Journal, 2021
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Community service education (CSE) in developing countries still remains under-represented in research. Addressing this gap, this article reports a study that investigated a CSE activity at a secondary school in Sri Lanka. The participants of this study comprised 10 English as a second language (ESL) teachers from four secondary schools, 68 Grade 10 students from a secondary school located in a semi-urban area and the author as participant observer. Based on this qualitative case study in the context of ESL writing pedagogy, the article conceptualises the epistemology of CSE in terms of four dimensions: experiential learning, knowledge/skills application, community participation and critical judgement. It also emphasises the futility of tokenist discourses and suggests that an ESL curriculum needs to have a heuristic orientation in CSE not as a mere extra-curricular exercise but as a mandatory component of social interaction where mutually constitutive benefits for students, teachers and the community are foregrounded. This article highlights how the student writer participants in this study were disadvantaged as a result of tokenist discourses and their teachers demoralised due to an inadequate grasp of the epistemology of CSE, curricular deficiencies, politically driven constraints and poorly resourced classrooms.
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