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Social Pedagogy and Working with Children and Young People: Where care and education meet.

Social Pedagogy and Working with Children and Young People: Where care and education meet

Claire Cameron and Peter Moss (eds)

Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2011

221 pages 24.99 [pounds sterling]

This book is aimed at students and professionals who are concerned with all aspects of children and young people's development and well-being. It aims to expand the reader's understanding of social pedagogy, particularly in the UK and other English-speaking nations where this approach has not been widely understood. The editors describe the 'social' in social pedagogy as focusing on the individual, the group, the community and society, and the interrelationships between them. 'Pedagogy' focuses on education in the broadest sense: education that seeks to improve not only all aspects of an individual child's life, but also the cohesion of society. At its core, social pedagogy emphasises relationships, listening, reflection and respect. This book offers it as an alternative approach for working with children and young people.

Social pedagogy is widely practised in continental European countries and interest is growing in Scotland and England, where the approach has been investigated for its potential in children's services. The book provides a comprehensive introduction for practitioners new to social pedagogy, as well as offering a useful reference for those to whom it is more familiar, by further developing the principles, cross-boundary interpretations and obstacles to its implementation. The 13 chapters explore social pedagogy through theoretical, policy and practical applications across a range of settings: out-of-home care, early childhood education, out-of-school hours care and school education. They provide a stimulus for reconsidering and restructuring the children's service workforce, the tasks involved and who undertakes them.

Given the recent riots in England and the debates that have been taking place on the causes and responses, and particularly the involvement of children, this book offers a timely alternative perspective on rethinking our approach to supporting children's well-being and engagement in society. A social pedagogy perspective positions children and young people positively and holistically, with a focus on democratic and ethical values. As Eichsteller and Holthoff argue in their chapter, the fundamental notion underpinning social pedagogy is 'that human beings are intrinsically rich, full of potential, abilities, knowledge and resources. And whether they are children, parents or other members of the community, they all deserve to be respected and valued as human beings' (p39).

The book acknowledges that social pedagogy is inscribed with political and cultural values, and argues for ongoing critical reflection to ensure the approach is not subjugated to cultivating the dominant values of society, as evident in the National Socialism history of some European countries. This theme of the tensions in respecting diversity while creating cohesive community runs throughout the book, but is specifically addressed in the chapter by Vandenbroeck et al.

This volume is thought provoking for professionals on the ways we structure our work and rethink our approach to working with, caring for and educating children and young people. Although it focuses on children and young people, many of the contributors also acknowledge that the features of this approach--a holistic focus, support for human development, and the centrality of relationships and communication--can equally be applied to working with adults. It brings further clarity to what countless out-of-home care and education studies have shown--that relationships matter. Boddy's chapter on supportive relationships for children in public care offers rich insights into the meeting of their relational needs. A number of others provide a valuable reference to communication techniques that support human development. Kleipoedszus's chapter examines communication and conflict in our work with young people and other professionals, and suggests that conflict is often overlooked or avoided, yet can be an important source of personal growth and understanding.

Social Pedagogy and Working with Children and Young People follows a conventional style, with the editors writing the introduction and conclusion, and the contributors offering different insights on social pedagogy in the various chapters. As one of the first English-language books to explore this topic, contributors coming from a wide range of countries effectively develop the reader's understanding, moving between the theory, policy and practice across environments, family, care, early childhood education and school. One very minor shortcoming is that one of the footnotes in Chapter 3 has not been translated into English. This book is a valuable contribution to the children's services field and a timely reflection on what it is important to focus on in our aspirations for creating a cohesive society.

Michelle Townsend is a doctoral student at the Centre for Children and Young People, Southern Cross University, New South Wales, Australia
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Author:Townsend, Michelle
Publication:Adoption & Fostering
Article Type:Book review
Date:Sep 22, 2011
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