The social pedagogical profession has a more than 100-year-old tradition in Europe, and although the professionals have different titles depending on the country in which they are educated, there are many theoretical and practice similarities. For example, social pedagogy is the main human services profession for people working directly with or in the life space of children, youth, families, and communities facing a variety of challenges (Cameron, 2013; Wood & Long, 1991). These challenges include abuse, neglect, interpersonal violence, disability, addiction, and poverty. The social pedagogical education ranges from 3% to 7 years depending on the country, but most social pedagogues have a bachelor's degree. The profession draws from the fields of theoretical and applied pedagogy; sociology; psychology; social policy; law; cultural studies; criminology; communication; and applied activity subjects such as drama, movement, textile, woodwork, nature, ceramics, music, and sports (Cameron, 2004, 2013; Giesecke, 1992; Gottesman, 1994; Harrit, 1999; Hatton, 2013; Smith, 2009a; Storo, 2013). The applied activity subjects are often referred to as animation in France and Italy and in some countries in South America. The use of drama, for example, is inspired by the work ofAugusto Boal and his Theatre of the Oppressed (1979)—discussed elsewhere in this book. Paulo Freire's critical pedagogy is seen in the way activities are used to increase opportunities for conscientization (Smith, 2009b).

In the Nordic countries, especially Denmark, the term Det F&lles Tredje, literally meaning the Common Third, is used. The Common Third is the deliberately planned activity that is used to build relationship between the service participant(s) and worker(s), to build competence, and to create small successes from which growth and change can occur (Hatton, 2013; Storo, 2013). Field education internships, the doing and implementation of social pedagogy, are an integral component of the educational process. In Denmark, for example, there are three internships, and they constitute more than one-third of the education. They are block placements where students spend 32 hours a week working side by side with educated pedagogues while they receive extensive supervision (International Committee of the Rectors' Conference (INCORE), 2002). A social pedagogue is focused on the whole person, and responsibilities include support in activities of daily living, family work, and service coordination—both hands-on work and counseling. This model differs from especially the child welfare and disability field in the United States, in which social workers are responsible for the counseling and service coordination and paraprofessionals (without specific educational requirements) are responsible for the hands-on tasks. I remember feeling as if half my job was taken away from me when I came to the United States and was told to “not talk about treatment-related issues” with families because I was only the direct support staff, not the social worker.

Social pedagogy derives from different traditions, including German progressive education, the Danish folk high school movement, and John Dewey's educational philosophy. The most significant influence has been Paulo Freire's critical pedagogy with its focus on a transformative, reciprocal, and egalitarian educational process (Hatton, 2013; Smith, 2009a; Store, 2013). According to INCORE (2002), the key elements of the education are democracy, equality, and dialogue, all of which are congruent with a Freirian approach. Cameron (2004) claims that social pedagogy is a professional field that crosses the social work/ education divide, and according to her, it is social education that integrates the Heart, Head, and Hand combination.

Cameron (2004) presents several themes based on her research in different European countries. One is the expectation that service participants play active parts in decision-making processes. This facilitation of self-determination is evident already in early childhood settings. Second, relationships are the main vehicle for growth and change; relationships often include physical contact and intimacy. The focus on close physical contact is in stark contrast to what students are told to do in social work education in the United States. For the past two decades, former students have told me that social work professors tell them to never touch and show physical affection for anyone with whom they work. Students assume that it is because of the risk of abuse allegations. The social pedagogical focus on relationships, and sometimes close emotional ones, is connected to the Heart aspect of social pedagogy. It refers to the ability and willingness to give of oneself without expecting that the service participant necessarily reciprocate. It also requires strategies for self-care and, as a Danish service participant stated, “a good pedagogue was one who had a ‘professional heart' ” (Cameron, 2004, p. 145). The Head refers to the use of the theoretical foundations of social pedagogy and the pedagogues' ability to integrate and use these theories in their work: “A central tenet of a pedagogic approach is to reject universal solutions and accept a multiplicity of possible perspectives, depending on personal circumstances” (Cameron, 2004, p. 145). Social pedagogy is not prescriptive, and responses such as “Well, it depends” and “We talk about it” are standard in cross-cultural exchanges when my American students ask Danish pedagogues,

“So, what do you do here when ...?” The ongoing dialogue between worker and service participant has been referred to as reflexive pedagogy. The success of this dialogue, this interaction, is related to the relationship and rapport that have been established through the Heart-Head combination. The tool used to develop and cultivate this relationship is reflected in the Hand, which is Cameron's term for the Common Third.

< Prev   CONTENTS   Source   Next >