03 SES 14 A, Curriculum Decision-Making in Three Parts of the World
Youth work has been describes as non-formal learning (Siurala, 2013), although some scholars emphasise the importance of informal learning (Sapin, 2009). Until recently there have been few attempts to describe in details the process of youth work. Due to the combination of external pressures to be transparent and efficient and internal pressures to enrich professional vocabulary and to develop the community of practice (Wenger, 2008) of youth work, there have been growing interest in systematic efforts to describe what youth work is about. In this paper, we describe the process of constructing a worker-based youth work curriculum in six cities in Finland. In this process, the work communities have attempted to formalise the non-formal, and to explicate the tacit knowledge of youth work community.
Recent research and policy documents on youth work in the European context have emphasised the diversity of youth work field in Europe (Schildt et al., 2017)). Due to this, one has to contextualise what the youth work conception in an examined country is about. From the 1940s youth work has been seen as a part of educational sector In Finland, albeit working mostly on leisure time, and also as part of the network of welfare services. Even though there are clear professional structures for youth work in Finland, there is not very strong political control. Most of the decisions concerning the e.g. on scope and methods are made locally. (Forkby & Kiilakoski, 2014; Kiilakoski et al, 2018.) If it is unclear what youth work is, and it is difficult to explain how youth work should be publicly financed and valued as a profession. In the 21st century, youth work has attempted to describe its activities in a way that builds understanding of the work and makes visible the nature of the work to partners and young people.
The role of tacit (Polanyi, 2009), socio-cultural and even embodied knowledge has been dominant form of knowledge in youth work. Tacit knowledge is often tied to human relations, professional traditions and socio-cultural norms and practices . This kind of knowledge is hard to explain and sometimes youth workers are not willing or capable to explain it (Kiilakoski et al., 2018). If youth work is to explicate its’ tacit knowledge, efforts to create an authentic expression what youth work is about are needed. This principle was taken as the starting point for a practice-based study in Finland.
William F. Pinar says curriculum is about ‘the everyday experience of the individual and his or her capacity to learn from that experience’ (Pinar, 2012). The problem was how to describe the broad aims of youth work. To achieve this, a perspective on the daily interactions and educational intentions of youth workers was needed to create an authentic youth work curriculum (Ord, 2016).
There is a need to describe the broad aims of youth work: to explain what youth work actually is and justify youth work to the politicians and others (Kiilakoski et al., 2018). For the youth work, the most promising perspective on curriculum emphasizes the centrality of the process instead of preset goals or outcomes (Ord, 2016). A process-oriented or emergent curriculum claims that the outcomes regarding preset goals are subservient to the process, or that the process itself is the key (Kelly, 1999). The design of youth work curriculum has been a joint project between the local youth workers in five towns and a youth researcher. In youth work curriculum research we should engage in a dialogue – debating, critically questioning, reformulating, and learning from one another’s perspectives (Kiilakoski et al., 2018).
Since there were no existing examples of work-based youth work curricula, the project of designing a curriculum was a essentially development project. This was developed through the form of practice-based research, which consisted of three cycles. First cycle (2011-2013) was about creating theories and concepts to be used in creating a curriculum. Second cycle (2013) applied these concepts to the local youth work in one city. During the third cycle (2013-2015), four other cities started creating a curriculum. Other cities have joined the project. Most recently, the city of Helsinki, a capital of Finland, has joined the project. In the beginning of the year 2019 the city of Helsinki started the development and research project that aims to create a curriculum for youth work, to which different members of the work community have been able to influence, and which describes the common and shared starting point for youth work in Helsinki. The aim of the research in this project is to support the curriculum process and to describe the principles and working methods of youth work in the City of Helsinki in accordance with the principles of practice-based research. The method of practice-based research is based on the belief that there is a form of knowing that is different from the logicoparadigmatic knowledge of science. In this research the knowledge is seen as context-dependent and exists in the community of practice, uniting practitioners as members of a work community. Practice-based research is committed to transformation, which means that it is inherently empathetic and critical in its stance towards practice. (Kemmis, 2010.) The presentation will combine various methodologies. The empirical data of the study will consist diaries and focus group discussions of the youth workers, individual research interviews, participatory observations and field notes from these and the material produced by the workers. It is typical that there is a lot of different types of data in practice-based research. According to practice-based research, it is not necessary that the data is well-organized or easily codable entity; the most important issue is understanding and transforming practices (Kiilakoski et al., 2018). In this presentation we will concentrate on the interviews conducted during the project (N=22). In these interviews workers reflect the project, development of youth work and their personal youth work identities.
The presentation analyses the outcomes and the process of the curriculum process by using a theory of practice architectures developed by Stephen Kemmis. According to this theory a practice is seen as historically formed and structured: it is influenced by local histories. The question is about “what particular people do, in a particular place and time”; and how social practice “contributes to the formation of their identities as people of a particular kind” (Kemmis, 2009). The central question of the presentation is reflecting what a curriculum process in Finland reveals about the practice architectures of youth work both locally and nationally. In our analysis, we tackle two distinct, but inter-connected question. The first question relates to youth work as a pedagogical activity, second question tackles individual youth work identities, and also how youth work communities are able to develop. 1. According to the project, how is youth work described? What is the nature of youth work as a pedagogical activity? How are cultural-discursive (Kemmis, 2014) dimensions of youth work developed in the project? 2. How do the youth workers describe their identities as youth workers and how do they relate to the idea of explicating tacit knowledge? How do the youth work communities involved in the project support the dialogue of youth workers? The city of Helsinki is currently preparing a curriculum, and in addition to above research questions, the expected outcomes are a curriculum document of Helsinki, and a process in which this product is created.
Forkby, T. & Kiilakoski, T. (2014). Building capacity in youth work: Perspective and practice in youth clubs in Finland and Sweden. Youth & Policy, 112, 1–17. Kelly, A.V. (1999). The curriculum: Theory and practice. 4th edition. London: Paul Chapman. Kiilakoski, T., Kinnunen, V., & Djupsund, R. (2018). Towards a Shared Vision of Youth Work: Developing a Worker-Based Youth Work Curriculum. In P. Alldred, F. Cullen, K. Edwards & D. Fusco (Eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Youth Work Practices (pp. 595–607). UK: SAGE Publications Ltd. Kemmis, S. (2009). Action research as a practice-based practice. Educational Action Research, 17(3), 463–474. Kemmis, S. (2010). Knowing doing. Pedagogy, Culture & Society, 18(1), 9–27. Kemmis, S. (2014). Reflections on How the Theory of Practice Architectures Is Being Used in the Nordic Context. In K. Rönnerman & P. Salo (Eds.) Lost in Practice: Transforming Nordic Educational Action Research (pp. 205-219). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. Ord, J. (2016). Youth work process, product and practice: Creating an authentic curriculum in work with young people, 2nd Edition. Oxon: Routledge. Pinar, W.F. (2012). What is curriculum theory? New York: Routledge. Polanyi, M. (2009). The tacit dimension. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Sapin, K. (2009). Essential skills for youth work practice. Los Angeles: Sage. Schildt, H.., Connolly, N., Labadie, F., Vanhee, J., & Williamson, H. (Eds.) (2017). Thinking seriously about youth work. And how to prepare people to do it. Youth knowledge #20. Strasbourg: Council of Europe and European Commission. Siurala, Lasse (2012) History of European youth policies and questions for the future. In Filip Coussée & Howard Williamson & Griet Verschelden (eds.) The history of youth work in Europe. Relevance for today’s youth work policy. Vol 3 Strasbourg: Council of Europe Publishing105–115. Wenger, Etienne (2008) Communities of Practice. Learning, Meaning and Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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