Why a Social Pedagogy Journey?

For some years I had heard the word social pedagogy and not quite known what it was so when UClan invited me to the launch of the Social Pedagogy Massive Open online Course (MOOC) in  September 2018 and I was keen to explore this funny sounding approach and find out more.  At the launch of the MOOC I spoke to Ali and Lowis the Social Pedagogy course leaders they were so passionate about the course and its links to advocacy I had to find out more.

The BA in social pedagogy is titled Social Pedagogy Advocacy and Participation. As Advocacy is something I have been passionate about and worked in I since I completed my final social work placement at Blackpool Advocacy in 2009. I explored the MA  in Social Pedagogy Leadership   and the course information had me hooked ! and 6 days later I was starting a master’s degree in Social Pedagogical Leadership.

Why !!!!! did I start this pedagogical journey? Why in deed I ask as I sat here writing my first ever  blog about what I have learnt so far about social pedagogy. Maybe it’s that I am going to be fifty in 2019 was my drive to get the old brain cells working again! Or that I was ready for a new challenge. I don’t know really! What I do know is that I have a passion for advocacy and getting peoples voices heard and Social pedagogy and Advocacy go hand in hand. The Social Pedagogical Standards and  Advocacy Charter complement each other in many ways as both are person centred,  focus on the person and the practice of the individual. Promoting equality, respectful relationship which is person led and leading to empowerment of the people accessing the service. Advocates like social pedagogues walk alongside the person they are working with.

So what have I learntsince September?

One of the first things that I read was the  Sample chapter  of Otto Scharmer’s Theory U, this really inspired me  and I realised that I needed to stop downloading and find my blind spot in order to improve my  leadership skill. The theory involves letting go of the past opening your heart and looking at new things,  which my social pedagogy journey has led me to do as I am now constantly looking at new ways of working.

One of the first things the group were introduced to  Haltung, which is a German word and  has no translation in to English but it roughly translates as ethos, mind-set and attitude.  Haltung is the ethics that a leader has and Ali and Lowis describe it is a “skin not a jacket”. Your Haltung is with you all the time it is your purpose and what drives you in.

Within the first week I learnt so much about social pedagogical theory and practice I was hooked and this has had a real impact on my leadership skills and my approach leading the team. I had a conversation with someone I had worked with for nearly two years and they are shocked to find out that I have five cats. Prior to learning about social pedagogical theory | probably would have not given this a second thought but the 3 P’s resonated with me as did Laloux (2014), P22 discussion about the social mask and how we do not bring our whole self to the workplace.

The 3 P’s Professional, Personal and Private  has taught me that bringing the personal in to the workplace makes for a happier team. Learning about the 3P’s led me to create my own one page profile to share with the team. I found completing the profile quite a challenge but sharing it with the team was really liberating. Now the whole team know I have five cats and their names and we are encouraging all staff and volunteers to complete them with a view to starting to use them with people who are accessing our services.

One of the social pedagogical theories which has led to a change in my way of thinking is Head, Heart and Hands.  Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi believed that we all needed an equal amount of Head, Heart and Hands to work in a pedagogical way. The head brings the knowledge to the partnership so that the pedagogue can share information maybe about the law or the person’s rights. The heart is bringing the caring side of the pedagogue where they genuinely care about the relationship with the person they are working with. The hands are the practical support given. Click here to watch Thempra’s video to find out more.

On my pedagogical journey I have fallen in love, with Paulo Freire’s book Pedagogy of the Oppressed this book really inspired me to reflect on how I work as a leader. Paulo’s Banking concept really made me think about my leadership skills and how I work with my team.  One thing that resonates with me about Freire’s book is that people learn together the teacher is the student and the student is the teacher and they work alongside one another in their journey.

The Chief Executive Empowerment Charity Mike Crowther is totally on board with my new pedagogical thinking and said when I did a training day in January and we introduced our one page profiles to the team by jumping out from behind a screen and dancing to music that “He does not know me anymore” he assured me this was in a positive way.

Georgina Kidd who I work with says that if you cut me in half advocacy would be written through my middle I think it now says social pedagogy and advocacy.

My social pedagogical journey moves on  and my leadership at Blackpool Advocacy Hub continues to improve as my way of working is changing, I think for the better.  I look forward to continuing learning new things and being creative.

Who knows where this social pedagogical journey will take me I am sure there are many more pedagogical tasks that will push me out of my comfort zone. I will be taking passengers on my pedagogical journey with me so climb aboard the pedagogical train and we can all learn together side by side.

Bibliography

Laloux, F (2014) Reinventing organizations. A guide to creating organizations inspired by the next stage in human consciousness. Belgium: Nelson Parker

Freire, P (1996) Pedagogy of the Oppressed, London, Penguin Books

Thempra Social Enterprise http://www.thempra.org.uk/thempra/our-projects/social-pedagogy-europe-mooc/  27/02/19

National Development Team for inclusion https://www.ndti.org.uk/our-work/our-projects/advocacy-and-voice/the-impact-of-advocacy-for-people-who-need-support/ Accessed 01/03/19

University of https://www.uclan.ac.uk/courses/ma-social-pedagogy-leadership.php Accessed 28/02/19

Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi. (2015, April 16). New World Encyclopedia, . from http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/p/index.php?title=Johann_Heinrich_Pestalozzi&oldid=987345  Accessed 01/03/19

Written by: Diana Evans – Manager, Blackpool Advocacy Hub

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