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EDUCATION AS PARALLEL PROCESS AND DEMOCRACY

The educator-authors of this volume have revealed that social work pedagogy and social work practice are parallel processes. This means that what happens in the classroom is a microcosm of practice, implying that social work students and educators must indeed embody the change they wish to see in the world (Sloan-Power, 2013). This insight makes it incumbent upon educators to model social work practice in the classroom and beyond through the skills of holistic engagement, such as whole self presence and empathic connection. Whether it is being willing to sit face-to-face with the discomforts of racism in the classroom (e.g., Burghardt, Chapter 4) or to try new methods that feel risky (e.g., Walter, Chapter 8), these authors confirm that the social work classroom is becoming a place where holistic engagement happens in real time.

It is clear that the internal life of the educator is central to holistic pedagogy and, by extension, that the internal life of the practitioner is fundamental to transformative social work practice (Lee, Ng, Leung, & Chan, 2009; Pyles, 2013). Whether it is feeling into the experience of vulnerability or lack of confidence

(e.g., Quinn, Chapter 13), or just dealing with the realities of being a human being such as experiencing a loss of a loved one on the day one is teaching a class (e.g., Shepard, Chapter 5), these social work educators are bringing authenticity to their teaching in a way that is resonating with students. As educators model these actions, they invite students to take risks and seize opportunities to take the social work values of self-awareness, empathy, and relationship (Hardina, 2013) to heart and into their future practice.

Social workers know that sustainable personal and social change must co-occur with consciousness-raising about what kinds of beliefs, patterns, and energies are blocking the change, whether it be some form of social oppression, unhealthy relationship patterns, or counterproductive personal habits (Pyles, 2013; White, 2002). Thus, this kind of deconstructive and reconstructive practice is critical to foster among social work students, and it is a lifelong process that can be nurtured in the classroom. As such, it necessitates individualized self-inquiry, as well as collective examination of the cultural and socioeconomic structures that stand in the way of liberation (e.g., Svistova et al., Chapter 9). This requires that students have the opportunity to hear each other's stories in ways that feel safe (e.g., Quinn, Chapter 13) while still pushing the boundaries of comfort (e.g., Walter, Chapter 8). As Shepard (Chapter 5) and Pettie (Chapter 10) detailed, this level of introspection and the safety around sharing one's story is equally pivotal for instructors to learn, and Burghardt's (Chapter 4) assertions on the value of mindfulness to discomforts in the classroom point to challenges and tools in making this transition. The authors of this text have offered many examples of such processes, from group dialogue (Shepard, Chapter 5) to psychodrama (Pettie, Chapter 10), and highlight the strength of international frameworks and tools such as Christiansen's (Chapter 6) discussion of the European social pedagogy's Common Third. Multiple chapters address context-driven moments of sharing feelings, and authors assert the importance of diverse student responses to these methods, ethical considerations, and complications that can arise unexpectedly, as articulated by Lynn, Mensinga, Tinning, and Lundman (Chapter 11).

We have also learned from many of these authors that utilizing holistic pedagogy and practice may require us to interrogate and unpack the narratives of traditional education and practice (e.g., Raheim & Lu, Chapter 12). In addition, it can mean that the tables in the classroom are turned. A traditional classroom in which a professor stands at the front of the room while students are lined up as docile, passive recipients of the professor's words is giving way to more democratic spaces. A democratic classroom, in part initiated by faculty and in part demanded by students, entails much more than changing the physical environment of the classroom. It means that students become the central subjects and actors in their own learning and step into their own power in the classroom. This can manifest in infinite ways from students grading each other's work (Mizrahi, Martell, Cavanaugh, & Weingarten, Chapter 3) to faculty shifting the class plan in a way that honors the moment and their journeys (Shepard, Chapter 5). This transformation requires evolving skills by educators, including the necessity of instructor improvisation skills such as those presented by Walter (Chapter 8).

 
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