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Changing Practices in Community Work
Transcript of Changing Practices in Community Work
through the years
The CLD Practitioner
My history doodles page!
The Scottish Governments National Outcomes:
The Scottish Governments National Indicators:
• We have strong, resilient and supportive communities where people take responsibility for their own actions and how they affect others
• Reduce number of working age people with severe literacy and numeracy problems
• Improve mental wellbeing
• Smarter: Expand opportunities for Scots to succeed from nurture through to lifelong learning ensuring higher and more widely shared achievements
Changing Practices in Community Work
Two pieces of group work which both directly linked to the Scottish Government’s Strategic Objective:
Thanks for watching and listening to my presentation on
Changing Practices in Community Work
Steps, a Self Esteem and Confidence building programme
Volunteer Tutor Group for Adult Literacy
Local Authority Priorities (CLD Service Plan):
Growing our Community • Increasing the involvement of community members in voluntary activity to strengthen their communities and provide personal development opportunities.
Family Learning • Coordinate and deliver targeted programmes of community based support and learning through a jointly agreed referral process
The group work approach within community education, formally evolved through early social work and education in Britain in the late eighteenth century. Ragged schooling and workhouse offering early forms of community education group work, with Aberdeen having one of the earliest recorded ‘Ragged Schools for the Poor’ in 1841, founded by Dr Guthrie. Ragged schools quickly developed into offering just more than the 4 ‘R’s and branched out into hosting sewing and knitting clubs, reading groups and working men’s clubs. Henry Solly was influential at this time in the establishment of working men’s clubs.
Solly, a Unitarian minister, caused conflict within his church, became founder member of the Working Men’s Clubs and was quoted as saying “we should encourage the formation of clubs by working men ‘where they can meet for conversation, business, and mental improvement, with the means of recreation and refreshment, free from intoxicating drinks’.
He believed if you engaged with men in a social group setting, they could relax and enjoy each other’s company, and then you could introduce educational activities. He said “Begin by meeting the workingmen’s humblest social wants for relaxation and amusement, and you may lift our hard-worked brethren by degrees up to very respectable heights of knowledge and education… You fail if you present the thick end of the plane first.” (quoted by Bailey 1987: 120)
Discourses in community education were emerging:
Educating the masses so they could read the bible and become a more civilized citizen.
Educated workers who read and write, will give employers a more efficient and adaptable workforce
Suffragette movements were appearing in the early 1900’s, empowering women to join together and campaign for their right to have a vote.
Group work methodology continued to develop and was quickly adopted by social work. Gertrude Wilson, a social worker in the 1930’s argued that group work was a core method of social work.
In a speech (documented by Hanson, 2011) Gertrude Wilson stated
“The development of a conceptual framework for work with groups (within the social service field) began as, and has continued to be, a group project to which educators, practitioners, supervisors, administrators, consultants, field representatives, and others have contributed. ...........
........... experimental practitioners are engaged in helping individuals and groups to make the social adjustments necessary to function in our dynamic, changing society” .
It became apparent that practitioner's using group work in social work and community work settings
had similar approaches, skills and experience, and the term ‘social group work’ was derived.
Practioners and theorists became aware that when engaged in group work, everyone involved developed a web of relationships between themselves, as well as to the communities in which they lived. These were called group processes.
Throughout the 1900’s adult classes and informal education gathered momentum using group processes with the development of organisations like the WRI and the WEA (Workers Educational Association), using group class settings to educate community members and workers in a range of political and social subjects. Making informal education accessible,
available for all.
"Education is not preparation
Education is life itself."
John Dewey (1859-1952)
(Self Esteem and
Volunteer Tutor Support (VTS)
Self-esteem is an individual’s judgement, evaluation and belief in their own self-worth.
Recorded history shows the notion of self-esteem goes back to the late 1900’s. Humanists John Dewy and William James were two psychologists of this era to advocate the benefits and importance of understanding “the self”.
Dewey in 1886 talked of “selfhood”, that your knowledge of yourself is essential to enable you to grow and gain knowledge. James was the first to use the term self-esteem whilst working with children to gain social skills and assist them in being able to adapt to different social settings with confidence and self-belief.
However, it wasn’t until 1960’s that it became an attributed scientific belief with academic and financial recognition.
In the mid-1960s, sociologist Morris Rosenberg defined self-esteem as a feeling of self-worth, and developed the Rosenberg self-esteem scale (RSES).
Carl Rodgers believed that if people did not feel good about their actual self, they would mislead others into believing they were more like how they wanted to be, and use mechanisms like denial and lies to hide how they really felt inside. This would cause internal conflict and the person would be incongruent with their real feelings and experiences, stopping them from seeing their potential, and from learning and developing themselves
to reach it.
Rosenburg however stated that one point is incontestable
“our attitudes towards ourselves are very importantly influenced by the responses of others towards us”
he also said that
“social factors importantly determine individuals self values…. No one evaluates himself in the abstract, evaluation is always with reference to certain criteria, but the criteria of excellence will derive from the particular historical conditions of society and the characteristic emphases of the group”
Smith and Mackie define self-esteem by saying it is “what we think about the self; self-esteem, is the positive or negative evaluations of the self, as in how we feel about it."
Doyle, Smith et al wrote about the early influences of the philosopher Jean-Jacque Rousseau who “innovatively argued that the momentum for learning was provided by the growth of the person (nature) – and that what the educator needed to do was to facilitate opportunities for learning,”
The Steps programme I facilitate comes from this same humanistic viewpoint. It is based on an individual’s basic want to grow and change, and focuses on informally offering knowledge to individuals on how they can start to take back the control of themselves and their lives, raise their self-esteem, and ultimately increase their confidence, realise their potential and form a positive belief in their potential and their future. By showing them how to use their minds, specifically their three consciouses to control the recording of their thoughts and experiences, and to listen to their inner voice, they can improve their self-esteem , and feeling of self-worth. So, whilst I agree that cultures, groups and individuals can (positively and negatively) inform and perhaps mould us on how we believe ourselves to be, the Steps programme developed by Lou Tice of the Pacific Institute gives individuals the mechanisms to control these influences, by understanding how they can filter and accept or decline information in a positive way.
13 x 2 hour session
aimed at "Targeted" people
“ I actually enjoyed all
the psycho waffle rubbish,
and it’s working”
“Bring it on”
“I can honestly say I never thought I would ever feel proud of being me, but I am now, because I know I am alright!”
“This has been the
I feel ready and able
to be me”
Volunteering in Scotland is popular, and in 2012 it was recorded that Scotland has over 1.3 million volunteers (volunteerscotland.net).
These volunteers take on roles
in all sectors though out our
communities, and make a
substantial difference on a daily basis. David Metcalfe, from Volunteer Scotland, said “The greatest untapped power in Scotland is our human capital.” (in response to Smith Commission). According to data provided by Volunteer Scotland website, formal volunteers in Aberdeenshire give over 10 million hours of help and inject £173 million into the local economy each year.
At present I support 14 volunteer tutors, who collectively have given over 900 hours in the past year to Adult Literacies.
Using volunteers in adult literacy programs can offer many rewards and benefits, cutting costs and allowing more people to take on the role of tutor than would be possible if all were salaried.
It therefore enables extended provision to be made available through third sector organisations as well as local authorities, programmes which otherwise would not have been able to offer the same levels of provision and support, due to funding and staffing restraints.
However the use of volunteers as literacy tutors has been and still is the subject of controversy and debate, especially around their training and monitoring of delivery
A critique about using volunteers as tutors is that they are not the most effective and suitable.
“Volunteer adult literacy tutors are charged with an extremely difficult task, and literacy programs have the responsibility to make sure their learners are given the best possibility of success through highly trained volunteers.”
The Scottish Governments states
“Adult literacies practitioners are first and foremost facilitators of learning, applying learning and teaching approaches which place the learner at the centre of the learning process, and which go beyond a concentration on educational processes only. They require multiple skills, not only in learning and teaching but also in advice, guidance and assessment.” (2011, P19)
“Effective leaders aim to strengthen the teaching learning transaction and especially the praxis between (espoused) theory and (theory in use) performance.”
Urbanisation developments in the 50's and 60's' created a new kind of need for community support, such as local clubs and community projects to ignite and embed community spirit into the "new towns".
The Alexander Report in 1975, focused on community education and change. Local authorities responded by restructuring their current youth, community and adult education services into one new department "Community Education Services".
Another positive outcome from the Alexander Report was to start the processes which eventually saw the ‘professionalisation’ of community education, by suggesting that a review of training for practitioners be undertook.
The 'Thatcher years' in the 80's which saw mass turns and changes in government policies and the community camaradarie was some what swept aside for individualism.
From my reading and research into group work and community education, along with reflection on my own practices, I can clearly see the influences Europe and America into Britain. Montessori, Dewey, Friere, Marx, Rodgers, Eraut, Schon, Wenger et al, have helped to develop an increased awareness of social capital, as well as promote positive influences from socialist movements to assist in community and social betterment.
These influences have played a critical role in the progression and growth of community education towards a social pedagogy, and the discourses in theory of practice within community work. Today I can see there is a pedagogical base to adult community education, and I am hopeful that the continuing changing face of informal adult education will grow and develop future discourses with a clear social pedagogy approach.