Working with youth
We all know that working with youth is a job, or a skill, designated to the teachers and family and this is the way it has been since centuries. However, there is another way of working with young people and has been like this ever since, but in the recent years it got its name: youth work. In many countries, Youth work has become a full time profession where one can study or take competence courses in order to qualify.
Youth work is covering a whole scale of different topics that we could practice and recognize, from doing mentorship or coaching to a young person, to delivering courses, programs or workshops on various themes, supporting them to acquire more skills, improve behaviours and patterns. Moreover, green and environment activities; art, crafting and book clubs; political activism; street work; sports activities; social enterprise and leisure-time activities can all be termed ‘youth work’.
Let’s see some of the characteristics of Youth Work:
- learning takes place outside the structures of the formal education system and differs from this in the way it is organised and the type of recognition this learning confers;
- learning is intentional and voluntary;
- learning aims above all to convey and practice the values and skills of democratic life.
These are strongly related to the methodological approach that the youth work brings in the learning process nowadays, such as:
- balanced co-existence and interaction between cognitive, affective and practical dimensions of learning;
- linking individual and social learning
- partnership oriented solidarity and symmetrical teaching/learning relations;
- participatory and learner-centred approaches;
- close to real life concerns, experimental and oriented to learning by doing, using intercultural exchanges and encounters as learning devices.
The results or the outcomes for youth work should follow several principles, and it is easy to recognize them by using the E’s, as follos:
- Emancipate: providing young people with autonomy and emancipation
- Engagement: by supporting youth to take part in public life
- Enabling: offer young people the support in follow their passions, dreams and desires
- Empowerment: creating space for young people to become the change-factors in their communities
- Enjoyment: giving the young people the chance to embrace the work-leisure balance
- Education: providing young people with the needed and relevant skills from non-formal education in order to improve their competences.
Nontheless, the youth work follows three ways of creating value within its works:
- Values linked to personal development: autonomy; critical thinking; openness and curiosity; creativity.
- Values linked to social development: communication; participation and democratic citizenship; solidarity and social justice; responsibility; transformative power of conflict.
- Ethical values: human rights; respect for others; intercultural learning and dialogue; peace/non-violence; gender equality; inter-generational dialogue.