A New Model for Holistic Engagement. A Foundation for Social Work Pedagogies



In order to conceptualize a holistic and transformative education, we began in Chapter 1 with an analysis of the current global context in which social work education transpires, in relation to the existing evidence for holistic pedagogies. Recognizing any theoretical model for shifting aspects of social work education would need to include what we already do well, we have grappled with issues such as empathy, presence, and context in detail. We aimed to understand how we can at once recognize the limitless social justice needs beckoning, the barriers imposed by social and cultural structures, and our real human limits. Thus, we offer a provisional model that builds on traditional and emerging social work practices and pedagogies. Through this process, we include the necessary constructs to cultivate shared understandings of what it means to respond with our whole selves in dynamic contexts and how a new way of teaching, learning, and practicing is resonate with our core social work values and ethics.

In this chapter, we present a model for holistic engagement and articulate key terms, including holistic engagement and its four accompanying key skills. We offer examples from social work practice and pedagogy to illuminate these skills throughout the chapter. Then, we continue to articulate the ways that knowledge gleaned from holistic engagement, along with traditional forms of social work knowledge, can breed attunement and can develop what we call integrative capability. This is followed by an orientation to pedagogies of holistic engagement, foreshadowing what the authors in this text expand on in detail.

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