Sociology of Aging (SY216) provides students with learning experiences that come alive through opportunities to contribute to the community in significant ways.
As part of SY216 students fan out across the community to help fill the gaps in service provision for seniors. From Wii bowling to one-on-one friendly visitors, students not only experience the benefits of intergenerational interaction but are able to integrate their classroom instruction with meaningful service.
The CSL experience is well-incorporated in the classroom. Students share their placement experiences in group discussions, they complete individual learning activities, and their CSL experience is even incorporated into their examinations. CSL provides the basis for the creation of a poster presentation and reflective paper linking an aspect of course content to their experience. The poster presentations are shared with each other and their community partners.
Prof. Ellis-Hale is a strong supporter of CSL and includes it in another of the courses she teaches, Quantitative Methods (SY280). In her own words, “CSL provides a grounding of academic content and the experiential self-reflection key to our students' development as leaders. This is how Sociology inspires lives of leadership and purpose.”
I think the best part about this course was actually being able to apply the concepts I’d learned in class to real-life scenarios. It is one thing to memorize some theories but actually getting to use them is an entirely different learning experience. The most integral thing I learned in class was around elderspeak. This defines the way we talk to seniors and often infantilise them through language. On the very first day at my placement I could hear myself speaking in this manner. Had I not learned of the phenomenon prior to, I wouldn’t have thought I was doing anything wrong.
Not only was I able to apply my education directly to this placement, the placement allowed me to be more outgoing and willing to talk about my experiences. In class I’m usually the one sitting in the back avoiding eye contact for fear of getting chosen to speak. What was different about 216 was that my peers were no longer casting (what I assume to be) judging glares, they were happy to hear what I had to say. There was a real feeling of camaraderie because we were all experiencing the same outrages and heart-tugging moments. Not only did I get to be involved in an experience I wouldn’t have otherwise participated in, I actually made some close connections.
During the morning, all the elders and staff would gather around a large table, drinking coffee and discussing recent events in the newspaper. It was so interesting to be able to hear opinions from a completely different perspective. I actually looked forward to getting up early every Friday morning to go to my placement. - Danielle Slack, Student, Sociology of Aging (SY216)