"The hand is the cutting edge of the mind" : the role of the service partner in service learning.
This study explores the role of the service partner in service learning. The reason for choosing this topic is its relevance to one emerging model of service learning in South Africa (that of a three-fold partnership approach), as well as its relevance to my own life and work in the "service sector". Given my own passionate engagement with service learning since 1999, and my participation in the CHESP programme as a service partner, I chose to use a process of modified heuristic inquiry for my research. This approach acknowledges the experience of the researcher as an integral (if not central) part of the research, and allows the voice of the researcher to be heard clearly throughout the unfolding research process. It also allows the voices of others who have an intimate involvement with the research topic to be heard, hence my engagement with others through both individual and focus group interviews. Heuristic inquiry also encourages the presentation of findings in the form of a "creative synthesis", which may take different (usually artistic) forms. For the synthesis of my findings, I created a palimpsest, a painting in mixed media which incorporates the dimensions of both space and time, thus allowing me to express visually my emerging understandings of the role of the service partner over the course of my engagement in the CHESP programme. The creation of the palimpsest also allowed me to engage with an aesthetic way of knowing. Central to the presentation of my findings (in both visual and narrative form), has been the idea of "new ways of knowing", initially brought to my attention by Richard Bawden during the CHESP Leadership Capacity Building Programme (LCBP). I have drawn extensively on the four types of knowing presented during the LCBP: propositional; practical; experiential; and inspirational, and have related these to my deepening understanding of the role of the service partner and associated questions. In the final chapter I suggest ways in which service partners may better prepare themselves to play a more meaningful role in both service learning and in the facilitation of services, and briefly consider my own future role in service learning.
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