“Here We Come to Save the Day”: Exploring the Dark Side of Servant Leadership Narratives among College Freshmen

Nicholas Anthony Clegorne


This article briefly explores student narratives regarding participation in a service learning curriculum in order to trouble the ideology within and suggest a curriculum designed to create thoughtful interactions when communities partner.  Drawing on oral and written reflections of a rural Appalachian service experience with college freshman (the names of all parties and communities have been replaced with pseudonyms), it was recognized that students exhibited alarming tendencies to colonize community spaces and members though service.  Specifically, students shared narratives in which they privileged themselves as heroes while representing community members as beside the point or invalid.  Critical post-colonial critique is used to analyze student reactions.  Review of literature and analysis of student narratives suggest hegemonic structures surrounding and within service learning curriculum are likely more responsible for these missteps than individual students.  Ultimately I explore and effort to imagine curricula that disrupts hero-centered conceptualizations of service learning curricula.


Service Learning, Co-curricular, Privilege, Critical Theory

Full Text:


JCT: Journal of Curriculum Theorizing is an interdisciplinary journal of curriculum studies. It offers an academic forum for scholarly discussions of curriculum. Historically aligned with the "reconceptualist" movement in curriculum theorizing and oriented toward informing and affecting classroom practice, JCT presents compelling pieces within forms that challenge disciplinary, genre, and textual boundaries.

The journal is published by the Foundation for Curriculum Theory and is associated with the Bergamo Conference on Curriculum Theory and Classroom Practice, held in the autumn of each year. JCT is indexed in The Education Index.

NOTICE: As of December 2008, the Journal of Curriculum Theorizing (Volume 24, Issue 1) and all future issues
are available freely and exclusively online to all individuals and institutions. More Information...

Contributors to the Journal of Curriculum Theorizing retain copyright to their work.

All other content: Copyright © Foundation for Curriculum Theory. All rights reserved.

ISSN: 1942-2563