The education success of both children and young people cannot be comprehended, not in education terms, but must also align with social and economic circumstances that afflict them. Community education can be perceived as grounded in three key pillars, namely: the nature of man; the prevailing social conditions and social challenges; and, pedagogy. The idea of social pedagogy avails a fascinating collection of paradigms in facilitating education for sociality. The social education plus the social group manifests some overlapping concerns as pedagogue has tended to strip away its democratic and communal significance minimizing it to pedagogy for case management.
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Until the end of the last century, in UK, the local and national policy remained grounded in concise boundaries between the disciplines of education, social care, and childcare. The distinct divisions were evident at diverse levels whether conceptual, organizational, professional, and in relation to training and education. Nevertheless, the UK has witnessed significant changes in administrative reorganization of the responsibility for children’s services and a change in the manner in which individuals envision provision for both children and young people.
Social pedagogy delineates education in the expansive sense of the word or a perspective entailing social action that aims at facilitating human welfare via child-rearing and education practices; to safeguard or ease social problems by availing individuals with the means to manage their own lives, and effect changes within their circumstances. The fundamental notion of social pedagogy centres on facilitating social functioning, inclusion, involvement, social identity and competence as fully functional members of the society. Social pedagogy in practice incorporates an all encompassing and personal approach to child care in all its facets that connects education and care, and support for families. In addition, social pedagogy avails a prospective approach to training at diverse levels that integrates education, psychology, and philosophy with the spheres of child care, family support, and the advancement of children’s rights.
Social pedagogy can be viewed as an activity and a collection of ideas that, while mirroring the broader concerns for the welfare of children, is organic and adjustable to the attributes of the society, and mirrors humanistic values grounded in a representation of children as active agents in society. As such, social pedagogy operates in “the here and now” and employs “the moment” as a launch pad for pedagogical practice.
Social pedagogues have been implemented across Europe in a broad range of service such as early years, schools, residential care, youth work and family support, disability services, and in some instances support for the senior citizens. Public policy within England has started to acknowledge that social, pedagogic training is a significant way to enhance practice within social care. This stems from the realization that this bears the potential to underpin a more collaborative approach, and aid to establish a shared language for working with children that could be adopted by diverse professionals operating within their own practice contexts.
Social pedagogy bears a critical focus on constructing relationships via practical engagement with children, the youth, and families. It avails the basis for training entities working with children and young people and presents a certain expertise in working with groups and utilizing the group as a support. Social pedagogy can be employed as a foundation for workforce reform within UK since it can avail a strong basis for an approach to children, young people, and families that exemplify ideals of active citizenship, rights, and participation. The positive aspects that can be derived from social, pedagogic practice entail: it avails a holistic view to engaging children and youth by exploring on the “whole child/young person” and availing support to their overall development. Social pedagogy underlines relationship building with children and young people, especially in the development of practical skills to assist in the relationship building. Similarly, social pedagogy highlights children and young people’s development, especially on their emotional wellbeing. Social pedagogy demonstrates the significance of reflection, and the capability to herald both theoretical understanding and self knowledge to the process of working with young people, besides it facilitates children’s rights, participation, and empowerment.
Effectiveness of social pedagogy in working with children, young people, and families
Drawing from several case studies on successful approaches to enhancing the wellbeing of looked after children within other countries such as Denmark, Germany, and France, British stakeholders working within childcare settings and with young people can draw immense and promising lessons from social, pedagogic models with the primary social, pedagogic objective being fostering healthy cognitive, and social development within everyday settings. Bringing social pedagogy to England is likely to better children’s services and herald greater coherence with several services becoming largely social pedagogic provisions.
The holistic notion of social pedagogy combines two dimensions: the social (caring) and the pedagogic (cognitive). This prompts some elementary alterations in the way in which the government should engage children and young people. The adoption of social pedagogy will aid to deliver a stronger workforce manifesting better communication professionals engaged with both children and young people, thus highlighting elevated focus on every aspect of the child’s life. According to the UNICEF report (2007), UK ranks low in terms of child wellbeing assessment in which factors such as health and safety, material wellbeing, children’s relationships, education wellbeing, young people’s behaviours and risks. Thus, is essential that action undertaken by UK at the national level matches its European counterparts. The incorporation of social pedagogy in the work of children and young people will work towards elevating UK standards, and enhancing children’s and young people’s overall wellbeing.
The adoption of social pedagogy can avail a number of benefits to social policy. As an overarching concept, social pedagogy could bring enhanced coherence to children’s and young people’s services as demonstrated by the adoption of Children’s Plan. In addition, pedagogy could also avail a platform for discussing aspirations of children and young people within the society. Social pedagogy also manifests the capability to establish the family support network and reinforce children’s overall development.
Social pedagogy can serve several aspects of government policy towards both children and young people. Pedagogy manifests the possibility for an inclusive approach. The normalizing approach inherent in social pedagogy aligns with government’s aims for children with exceptional needs. Pedagogic approaches are mainly child-focused, instead of procedure-focused. Although attention to procedures is a significant part of work, it should not necessary shape it basis. Overall the adoption of social pedagogy will deliver immense support to reinforcing professionalism of the worker and enhancing the transparency of practice, which avail best guarantee to child safety.
Social pedagogy plays a role in working with young people via the provision of personal advisor services. Fundamental to the concept of social pedagogy is the pursuit to enhance current welfare practice by facilitating creativity. Creativity depicts an active process whereby the social pedagogue works with the individual employing their service in the manner in which they maximize their potential, their capability t arrive at decisions and enhance their life chances. The inventive and all-encompassing approach to social pedagogy can deliver beneficial effects with regard to enhancing self belief and self confidence of individuals within a range of varying situations. A critical feature of social pedagogy is the recreation of relationships depicted by an attempt to enhance social assimilation and a commitment to guaranteeing that the people pedagogues work with, connect and/or re-engage with the communities in which they reside.
According to Eischesteller and Rapey (2007), social pedagogy could play a critical function in reclaiming the nucleus values of the youth work within the UK. The adoption of social pedagogy can empower the participants and reinforce their self esteem, their acting, skill and individual development of productive new life. As such, young people will be able to turn a problem into something that they can be able to work with as mirrored by the close and compassionate character of the social pedagogues’ rapport with the young people. The social pedagogues can aid young people to exercise significant steps with regard to developing essential life skills.
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Social pedagogy is likely to benefit children and young people within the UK, as is avails support and direction to young people who might feel dislodged and cut off from the society by aiding them to gain support and direction. Social pedagogy highlights excellence in youth work and social work practice and facilitates children and young people to be proficient fully functional members of the society. Social pedagogy is beneficial in constructing positive informal relationships that enable professionals to view individuals in a holistic way.
Problems and/or Barriers to the adoption of Social Pedagogy
It is apparent that the implementation of social pedagogy is reliant on its social context; therefore, the implementation of social pedagogy within the UK will differ from that of the European counterparts and must be assembled in dialogue with professionals, building on the present practice, motivating them with diverse ideas, and underlying their practice with pedagogic thinking, concepts, and theories. There may be barriers to introducing the term social pedagogy to the children, and youth workforce n England owing to deficiency in familiarity with the language of social pedagogy, diverse interpretations on the connotation of social, pedagogic policy, and absence of a tradition of social pedagogy policy, training, theory, and practice.
One of the outstanding problems that manifests in the adoption of social pedagogy is the perceived competition with social work, plus other professions. The greatest divergence social work and social pedagogy centres on the degree to which social pedagogues remained trained for work within group settings, in which they share the daily lives and activities of both children and young people. This is less factual for social work within UK since in the rest Europe, social work and social pedagogy do not appear to be in competition as they manifest diverse complementary facets of work.
Another barrier to the introduction of social pedagogy into the UK entail the possibility that it will be perceived as being too idealistic; not adequately appropriate; not adequately well understood or valuable within a UK context; not essentially appropriate for all professionals working with young people or children; and, a discrepancy in its education and training. There may also be concerns centring on the challenges of funding and the potential dilution of individual specialisms, and the possibility of resistance of the workforce in the event that appropriate account was not considered of the cultural variations between the UK and the European countries.
Another barrier stems from the observation that devoid of publicly funded training opportunities that match the duration and depth of those found in the rest of Europe a profession comparative to that of the pedagogue cannot be effectively established. Youth work within UK stands to be re-energized by the incorporation of social pedagogy framework within the activities of youth workers. The adopted perspective should move beyond an individual focus to one that employs an approach that appreciates structural perspectives.
Nevertheless, in adopting a social pedagogy for work with children, young people, and families, it is critical to consider the difficulties of integrating social pedagogy into a diverse cultural, political, and social context. The practice and cultural shift apparent in the adoption of social pedagogy may not be always welcome. For instance, social pedagogy perceives risk taking as an educational goal that conflicts with the considerable priority awarded to health and safety within children’s homes. Whereas the values and the general approach of social pedagogy appeals to practitioners, there remain embedded difficulties within the organization of services for children within residential care when it comes to initiating social pedagogy. This implies a need to respond to social pedagogy not only as a training issue, but also a sector development issue.
UK should integrate social pedagogy for work with children, young people, and families in a constructive and beneficial way. The adoption of social pedagogy in the work with children and young people is likely to create an environment that cultivates relationships between young people and staff, and fashions a sense of positivity and wellbeing. The social, pedagogic model should be grounded in nurturing relationships, creativity, and individuality. Social pedagogy spotlights positive youth development that highlights young people’s assets rather than their deficits. This perspective can be broadened by identifying young people as agents of change. Social pedagogy would promote the children and young people’s workforce as it: persuade professionals not to compartmentalize certain facets of children or young people’s lives; delivers more person driven approach; persuade professionals to highlight the views of the children or young people; and, persuade professionals to consider all facets of a child’s life.
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