05 SES 01, Extended Services, Informal Education and Community Schools
Informal, non-formal and community based education (also covered by terms such as social pedagogy and youth work) has a strong history across Europe, embedded in different institutions and with different relationships with other state agencies. It also raises a number of historic and contemporary debates given its role in totalitarian regimes (of both and left and right) and its present manifestations as part of extremist political and religious groups. In the light of this one might conceptualise such informal educational work with young people as methodologically neutral, and that this a positive, democratic conceptualisation. On the other hand work with young people might be seen as a means of enabling the adoption of some strong ethical commitments? as Matin Luther King noted in his Detroit speech (23/6/1963) 'If a man hasn't discovered something he will die for, he isn't fit to live'.
Where such work is privately or philanthropically funded we may well suggest a relatively high bar to state involvement in such activity; such as when the education is intended to promote criminal or terrorist activity. Where the work is to be publicly funded there is in modern democratic states a need to display the efficacy and outcomes of such work and its contribution to the public good. The recent period of austerity has heightened debates about work where outcomes are not easily measured, especially in those countries with a more 'Neo-liberal' government. However, this is not a concerned unique to such governments (see Bernard, 2013; Coussée, Williamson and Verschelden, 2012). The value of such work, particularly when publicly funded is of critical significance for governments and the sustaining of such educational work beyond the privately and philanthropically funded approaches.
In England a recent parliamentary review (HCEC, 2011), occurring against the backdrop of 'austerity', 'big society' and a narrowing of the focus of statutory youth work, raised the question of the lack of evidence for such education work. The committee reported:
We received a huge amount of persuasive anecdotal and personal evidence about the value that services can have for young people (HCEC, 2011, para.29)
They also noted:
We experienced great difficulty in finding objective evidence of the impact of services, whether in the guise of thematic research studies by academics and independent bodies, or of evaluations of individual services (HCEC, 2011, para.30)
Similarly there is a global lack of evidence of effectiveness of informal/non-formal work with young people. The debate in a UK context has brought three issues have come to the fore. Firstly, what is the role of the various stakeholders (employers, youth workers, government and higher education). Critically, data is gathered by different agents (and agencies) for different purposes and to evidence different things; thus giving rise to different types of data gathering. professional workers, their managers and agencies are often unclear about what is it that needs to be 'evidenced'. Secondly, concerns remain as to the relative weight that ought to be given to 'what can be measured' as opposed to that which it is only possible to infer (and often only by 'insiders'). In particular, this debate reflects concerns about the relative contribution of 'soft' and 'hard' outcomes, and a concern that some things in informal/non-formal work ought not to be measured. Thirdly, concerns are regularly raised about the relationship between individual human action and the social and economic structures within which these actions occur. In particular, this reflects the polarisation of left and right within these debates.
Bernard, V. (2013) Potential and perspective of non-formal education for the future of the young generation, EP Today, 6/11/13 Coussée, F., Williamson, H. and Verschelden, G. (2012)The history of youth work in Europe: Relevance for today’s youth work policy (Volume 3), Council of Europe. House of Commons Education Committee (HCEC) (2011) Services for Young People: Third report of session 2010-11. Yamagata-Lynch, L.C. (2010) Action System Analysis Methods: Understanding Complex Learning Environments.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
Network 7. Social Justice and Intercultural Education
Network 8. Research on Health Education
Network 9. Assessment, Evaluation, Testing and Measurement
Network 10. Teacher Education Research
Network 11. Educational Effectiveness and Quality Assurance
Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
Network 13. Philosophy of Education
Network 14. Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research
Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
Network 16. ICT in Education and Training
Network 17. Histories of Education
Network 18. Research in Sport Pedagogy
Network 19. Ethnography
Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
Network 22. Research in Higher Education
Network 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education
Network 24. Mathematics Education Research
Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
Network 27. Didactics – Learning and Teaching
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