Be Mindful of Your Discomfort: An Approach to Contextualized Learning

Angeni Bheekie, Mea van Huyssteen


Service-learning creates a space for contextualized learning whereby students connect classroom concepts to real-world practices relative to their own frame of reference. These experiences occur within a societal status quo rooted within historical and social inequalities. Affective responses to encounters with inequalities are not routinely addressed within the learning outcomes of formal curricula. Thus, the pedagogy of discomfort calls for an awareness and a critical self-examination among educators and students of how their passive acceptance or non-acceptance of apparent social injustices has been shaped by the status quo. By incorporating affective learning into the reflective process, we realized that contradictions in South African society permeate students’ experiences in ways that are indicative of the status quo. Increased recognition of the potential of affective learning to address social injustices in higher education could enable efforts toward social transformation.



affective learning, pedagogy of discomfort, reciprocity, service-learning, social justice

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