05 SES 08, Communities and Localities
The presentation explores how the perceptions of community educators inluence the empowering role of communities in helping young people, identified as „youth at risk”,to become more resilient in challenging times. Complementary to this study there will be presented youth voice from 6 European countries.
Background of the study:
Researchers from the field of education usually focus on youth at risk from the perspective of their difficult situations, as social problems, or as reasons for pedagogical intervention. At the same time there are various case studies on local communities "best practice" actions and programs for youth at risk. The presentation will discuss that in addition, there is an important angle in the educational proces – the practicioners (educators, social workers) perspective on who, how and why shall be helped, that plays vital role in designing, implementing and changing the intrevention plans.
Theories the study refers to:
Mezirow (2000) transformative learning concept suited to analyse the educators narratives and perceptions of youth at risk and pedagogical interventions as well as live experiences (Van Mannen 2016). The concepts of assets building and community empowerment have been adapted to study the community role (Zimmerman 2000). The concept of building youth resiliency was taken into consideration while analysing the perceptions of youth needs by educators (Bernard 2004).The critical part of the research reflects on best practices that may not work (Biesta 2010) because we do not take into account human aspect of the implementers of educational methods.
The aim of the presentation is to show through the trangular analysis of data, the results from three different types of research conducted in the past three years, that had the aim to study the situation of young people from the perspective of the educators and practicioners in local communities.
First type of data comes from educational diaries of educators working in different local communities in Poland with vulnerable people, youth and children, in particular. They show not only their perspectives on youth vulnerability but also the actions that they see as useful to tackle the problems - use different typed of pedagogical reasoning.
Second type of data has been collected during the European project of 6 countries: UK, Poland, Denmark, Portugal, Greece and Czech Republic. The aim of the research was to get the perspective of youth and practicioners on local community assets to build youth friendly environments, especially for young people at risk of exclusion.
Third type of data is taken from studying Jane Addams papers - a community activist, who provided in in XIX century a Chicago settlement in the area of big powerty, and conducted the long-term study on the needs and factors creating vulnerability among European immigrant youth coming to the U.S
As a result there are three areas explored: the personal and local (feelings of educators on youth at risk situation, through their diaries, where Polish communities might be the cases of any European community); the social and cross-European (practicioners and youth perspectives on communities roles to suport youth at risk in six different countries); the historical and international: (through Jane Addams papers analysis of activists thought on poor immigrant youth from Europe, struggling to understand their life.
The overall aim of the study was to deepen the understanding of the educators narratives and their various pedagogical interpretations. Such understanding brings the value to discussions on the educational processes that take place through people’s unique interpretations of the roles during the life experience.
From methodological point of view the presentation has the aim to transgress the typical qualitative separate studies focused on a small scale, unigue interpretations of a studied phenomenon, and with typical conflict between qualitative and quantitative research methods, to show particular pedagogical aspect studied from different angles, for a certain period of time. The final results may differ from individual research finsings. There were different methods of the research taken for the data collection in each research attempt and then they were analysed in depth by searching for similarities and differences from all the studied perspectives : 1. Biographical and case study approach: Through analysis of 20 educational diaries prepared by community educators from all over Poland. Qualitative research approach: documents’ analysis of presented cases, living experiences and educational methods, narratives of problems of youth at risk and perceived methods as best practices in local communities. 2. Group discussion analysis: 6 focus groups in form of workshops, 4-6 youth representatives from six European countries (students, street youth, disabled youth, mentally ill youth) + 6 focus groups/workshops of 4-6 educators or social workers. Qualitative research approach: analysis of group discussions topics, the language and perspectives from youth and adults on community role in their well being. 3. Biographical-historical reconstruction. Analysis of papers written by role model of community activism in the US - Jane Addams. The focus of the study was the perception of the experienced community worker on the reasons of vulnerability of youth, risk factors and the way adults should work with young immigrant people from Europe in the US in areas of deprived economy. 4. The triangulation of data collection and findings on factors creating the social and pedagogical aspects of community work with various vulnerable youth groups, from the perspective of local community educators/practitioners.
There will be presented main findings from the 3 research projects with integrated analysis of the whole concept of educatpors understanding of their role in the community for youth support (supplemented by youth voice). In the presentation there will be explored in particular the following results: 1) There are different individual interpretations and experiences of educators on the „youth at risk” definitions, needs, perceptions and actions taken. As a consequence of this human factor there are individual choices on certain „usefulness” of particular methods of education and suport in the local communities. 2) There are some similarities but also some differences between the educators/practicioners recommendations on how to work with youth and youth voice on this. 3) The role of future long-term, integrated plans of building sustainable environment for growth, learning and changing of youth, in the perspective of tranformative life, is a key need to address their risks and replace current galaxy of inconsistent, disconnectd, temporary, acton oriented community projects for youth.
1.Addams, J. (1909). The Spirit of Youth and City Streets, New York: Macmillan 2.Bernard, B. (2004). Resiliency. What we have learned, San Francisco, CA. WestEnd 3.Biesta, G.J.J. (2010) Why ‘What Works’ Still Won’t Work: From Evidence-Based Education to Value-Based Education, Studies in Philosophy and Education 29:5 pp. 491–503 DOI 10.1007/s11217-010-9191-x 4.Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press 5.Iwasaki, Y. (2016). The role of youth engagement in positive youth development and social justice youth development for high-risk, marginalised youth, International Journal of Adolescence and Youth, 21:3, pp. 267-278. DOI: 10.1080/02673843.2015.1067893 6.Kretzmann, J. & McKnight J. (1993). Building Communities from the Inside Out: A Path Toward Finding and Mobilizing a Community's Assets, Chicago: ACTA Publications 7.Mezirow, J. & Associates (2000), Learning as transformation. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 8.Rak, C. F. & Patterson, L. E. (1996). Promoting resilience in at-risk children. Journal of Counseling and Development, 74(4), pp. 368-373.; 9.Randolph, K. A., Fraser, M. W., & Orthner, D. K. (2004). Educational resilience among youth at risk. Substance Use and Misuse, 39(5), pp. 747-767. 10.Zimmerman, M.A. Empowerment theory: Psychological, organizational and community levels of analysis. In Handbook of Community Psychology; Rappaport, J., Seidman, E., Eds.; Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers: New York, NY, USA, 2000; pp. 43-63. 11.Rhodes, J., & Roffman, J. (2003). Nonparental adults as asset builders in the lives of youth. In R. M. Lerner & P. L., Benson (Eds.), Developmental assets and asset-building communities: Implications for research, policy, and practice. pp. 195-212. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4615-0091-9 12.Van Manen, M. (2016). Researching Lived Experience, Second Edition: Human Science for an Action Sensitive Pedagogy. London, New York: Routledge. 13.Zoerink, D.A., Magafas, A.H. & Pawelko, K.A., (1997). Empowering youth at risk through community service. Child Youth Care Forum 26:2 127-138. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02589361
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