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Home arrow Sociology arrow Holistic engagement : transformative social work education in the 21st century
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SOURCES OF DATA/WAYS OF KNOWING

Based on the premises discussed so far, the two broad sources of data for social workers include two types of “information”: (1) knowledge generated through the four skills ofholistic engagement and (2) traditional social work data (competencies, theoretical knowledge, and research or other evidence). We view accessing both of these as being crucial to the kind of attunement that leads ultimately to integrative capability. Although a primary focus in this text is on introducing holistic engagement and expanding social work pedagogy to develop these associated skills, we include this conceptual reference to accessing both ways of knowing because alone, either is incomplete.

Currently, most of social work education prioritizes professional competencies, theoretical knowledge, and research (Barter, 2012; Reisch, 2013). We aim to add holistic engagement as the other key source of data necessary to practice social work. The greatest level of attunement in social work invokes a skillful means ofusing all of the ways ofknowing and being able to synthesize that data in a dynamic and new way. When being fully engaged with all those aspects, including the expanded self's intention and capacity to remain present while inviting the other to do the same, combines with the full richness of traditional social work education, the gateway to integrated capability is opened. It is through this fusion of all of our ways of knowing that social workers can participate in the full complexity of being human while maintaining the awareness, knowledge, and skills to do so ethically and effectively. If we can learn to bring the expectation of accessing both broad sources of knowing, we offer our students and ourselves access to the breadth and diversity of our full humanness along with the acuity, precision, and responsibility of professional social work.

If our intention is to practice with and on behalf of humans, this call to practice with ever expanding access to our own humanness makes sense, and it comes with its own new kinds of vulnerability. As we confront the limits of our existing pedagogies, which often minimize or neglect the intricacies of knowledge generated through holistic engagement, we also open ourselves to the limitless permutations we find when we actively engage with our whole selves.

 
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