Document Type


Publication Date

January 2017


Service-learning pedagogy, whether traditional or critical, provides early childhood students and teachers with the opportunity to engage with the community ina “real-world” context. The result is a “deeper commitment to communities, better preparation for careers, improved conflict management, and greater understanding of community problems” (Deans 2000, p. 4). Early childhood educators who are currently employing service-learning pedagogy should consider moving to a critical approach that encourages students to examine themselves and their value systems in relation to social justice issues around the world. By doing so, “classrooms can be places of hope, where students and teachers gain glimpses of the kind of society we could live in and where students learn the academic and critical skills needed to make it a reality” (Au et al. 2015, para. 2). The utilization of critical service learning promises to foster these ideal classrooms and create a new kind of “21st learner”—one who cannot only innovate, think critically, and problem solve, but use these skills to improve quality of life for themselves and others.