his essay will present a definition and understanding of the European term “Social Pedagogy”, identifying its historical development and some of the concepts and theories
that created its academic and professional identity. It will also identify and analyse the professional characteristics and value base of European social pedagogy and its links to youth work.
The term “Social Pedagogy” has been adopted in Europe and is used to describe a model of practice which concerns the care and upbringing of children and young people. The term itself has variations in its interpretation. The word “pedagogy” is taken from the Greek word “pedagogue” and was initially used to describe slaves who ...view middle of the document...
“Pedagogy, which has come to be associated with social work, is an approach where care and education meet. It’s about upbringing, child- rearing, nurturing, socialisation and supporting development”, (Cameron, 2007, p.1).
In the light of the above statement and in the context of working with children and young people, social pedagogy is a concept of work which encompasses all aspects of development. It is an adhesive which brings together the various fragments of services for children within a framework that considers the child as a whole and envelops all areas of development such as education, care, welfare and justice. In children’s work and youth work, social pedagogy considers a holistic approach to the person and therefore is related to more than one specialised field of practice. It is important to note that the concept and model of social pedagogy is not confined to the work with children and young people but that it can be extended into many forms of work within community settings and also include vulnerable or marginalised groups. (Petrie et al, 2008, p.2-4).
The historical background to social pedagogy can be traced back to Germany around the middle of the nineteenth century. The term social pedagogy was first recognised and coined by a man named Karl Mager in 1844. However, a Prussian by the name of Friedrich Diesterweg, advanced the practice model and “brought the idea to a broader audience”, (Smith, 1999, 2007, p.1).
The practice of social pedagogy emerged in Europe within the second half of the nineteenth century through a mix of “educators of the poor” and “rescue movements among children and young people instituted by philanthropists, theologians, church and charitable organisations”, (Jones, 1994, p.1). The manifestation of the work coincided with many of the social problems brought about by industrialisation.
There had been many struggles with the initial social pedagogy model in Europe, however, the increased discourses and activity in this area meant that the model had already been bedded into practices giving a gateway to a new profession. This attracted interest from other countries such as the United Kingdom and even further afield such as America. One of America’s most influential thinkers on education, John Dewey (1916), was attracted to the social pedagogy model for the reason that he believed that participation in community life was a key to learning and developing. John Dewey, in his writings, made significant contributions to the development of informal education which fits well with the model of social pedagogy, (Smith, 2001, p.1).
The second half of the twentieth century saw a real development of social pedagogy and it became increasingly associated with social work and social education in Europe. Countries such as Germany, France, Holland and Hungary used the term to “embrace the activities of youth workers, residential or day care workers (with children or adults), and play and occupational...