Why I won’t do youth work any more!

Justin Wyllie’s thoughts on his blog echo the feelings of more than a few workers we’ve talked to over the past few years.

He begins:

Why I won’t do youth work any more

Part 1: Outcomes education

Over the last few years I’ve worked on several occasions with young people; including as a youth worker, tutor on a programme for school excluded students, trainer on a progamme for young adults on a drug rehabiliation programme and tutor for young people on ‘back to work’ schemes. I’ve enjoyed the work and think I have some talent for it.

On every occasion I have left because I felt I was being asked to do something other than youth work or teaching. Both these activities involve a relationship between teacher or youth-worker and the young person or the group to do them in a fruitful way. In all cases I found myself being asked to become involved in a process of behaviour training which cut across the relationship and, essentially, dispensed with it. The trainer or youth worker is increasingly asked, required rather, to obtain specified outcomes from the young people in question. Each lesson or session must be written up – in a ‘learning log’ or ‘sessional monitoring form’ where the youth worker or tutor must show that the required outcomes have been delivered.

Go to Justin’s blog to read more

Published in: on October 18, 2010 at 7:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Defined by History : Youth Work in the UK

In the ongoing debates about youth work a recurring theme is that somehow we don’t know what we are up to; that we can’t explain what youth work is. This sweeping historical account  by Bernard Davies gives the lie to this weary cliché.  In responding to a European debate about the character of youth work, he opens by saying:

One question, posed a number of times at the Blankenberge Seminar, seemed to have considerable resonance for many of the participants: ‘Why can’t youth workers define what they do more clearly – and more credibly?’ For me however, I realised that this had not been a particular concern in preparing my own contribution. In fact, my paper was, and still is, underpinned by a quite contrary premise: that over the past century and a half in England – and indeed, it could be argued, over the UK generally – core features of a way of working with young people have been formulated and refined which, as an overall configuration, provide a well delineated if as always ‘unfinished’ definition of a distinctive practice which we now call ‘youth work’.

At a moment when Fiona Blacke, Chief Executive of the National Youth Agency, is able to suggest without embarrassment that ‘the question is not what type of youth work will there be, but will there be any at all,’ we need to retort that of course it bloody matters what type of youth work we are talking about! Bernard’s piece underlines that our response is rooted deeply in the history of a voluntary and open engagement with young people.

This article appeared first in the book, The history of youth work in Europe, (eds) Griet Verschelden, Filip Coussee, Tineke van de Walle and Howard Williamson (2009) Strasbourg : Council of Europe

Pour yourself a toddy of your choice  and make some time to read.

Defined by History : Bernard Davies


Published in: on October 18, 2010 at 4:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

Chatting Critically to Young People about …..Drugs

An Entitelment for All- Drugs

For many a year Drugs Education has been a lucrative source of finance within Youth Work. And, of course, it has seemed  utterly the right thing to be doing. None of us want to see young lives wrecked by drugs. And yet, of course, many of us take drugs – between 2 and 5 million cannabis users in the UK – and stay on the rails. I’m not saying anything special here, except to ponder whether the overall thrust of the drugs awareness approach reveals it to be the educational wing of  a failed global ‘War Against Drugs’ strategy?

Brazil’s former president, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, co-authored the recent Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy. He declares the emperor naked. “The tide is turning,” he says. “The war-on-drugs strategy has failed.” A Brazilian judge, Maria Lucia Karam, of the lobby group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, tells the Guardian: “The only way to reduce violence in Mexico, Brazil or anywhere else is to legalise the production, supply and consumption of all drugs.”

This passage is taken from a challenging counterweight to prevailing orthodoxy, The War on Drugs is Immoral Idiocy, written by Simon Jenkins. I don’t agree with him at every turn – not least with his opening sentence – but there is much here for youth workers to ponder. Does this wider political context carry any implications for practice?


Published in: on September 6, 2009 at 1:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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