07 SES 11 B, Non-Formal Intercultural Learning
The main instrument of Finnish municipal youth work is the youth club. Like in many European countries, youth clubs are supposed to learning environments which promote non-formal learning. According to accounts of Finnish youth workers, youth clubs combine youth cultural activities with opportunities to learn everyday social skills and communal practices. The emphasis is on peer learning.
The implicit idea is that youth clubs offer a leisure platform for diverse groups of young people. Moreover, they should be equally accessible for every young person irrespective of background. Youth workers generally define young people not as clients or customers, but more like participants in the shared enterprise (Jeffs & Banks, 2010, p. 114). Thus, the societal legitimization of youth clubs is that they increase the ability to understand others, interact with diverse people, and learn to see how one’s actions affect others (Mezirow, 2000, p. 11). The learning outcomes of the youth club spring from the daily interactions where diverse group of youth meet the challenges of living together under guidance of a professional educator.
In this paper, we define the above presented educational ideal of youth workers as pedagogy of loose space (on the concept of loose space: see Franck & Stevens 2007). However, we aim to examine the accessibility and the actual educational outcomes of youth clubs. Do the youth workers’ professional definitions correspond to the young people’s spatial experiences? We contrast the professional discourse of youth workers with the experienced spatiality of young people. We aim to provide a detailed picture of the informal side of Nordic welfare services and their actual ability to promote non-formal learning in diverse surroundings.
Franck, K., & Stevens, Q. (2007). Tying down loose space. In K. Franck & Q. Stevens (Eds.), Loose space (pp. 1–33). London: Routledge. Jeffs, T., & Banks, S. (2010). Youth workers as controllers: Issues in method and purpose. In S. Banks (Ed.), Ethical issues in youth work (pp. 106–122). New York: Routledge. Mezirow, J. (2000). Learning to think like an adult: Core concepts of transformation theory. In J. Mezirow (Ed.), Learning as transformation (pp. 3–33). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Latour, B. (2005). Reassembling the social. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
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