I’m reflecting on the idea that social work should be more about creating tools that empower people to help themselves rather than helping people directly. Not sure I can buy into the NASW slogan of “Help starts here.” Should social work focus more on empowerment rather than helping? Or do I just have a negative attachment to the word “helping?” It just seems so paternalistic.
Here’s an interesting article from the New York Times. It’s about the rise in for-profit private colleges and the problems students are having. This is another subject that I am quite passionate about. As lower-skill jobs are being eliminated and dislocated workers need retraining, we are seeing a rise in these for-profit colleges that cater to adult learners. I think some of the recruiting tactics are borderline predatory because they mislead low-income individuals into believing they will obtain their degree and a high paying job. But the problem is that many of these “schools” are accredited to qualify students for financial aid and giving out degrees, but they are not accredited by a professional association. For example, my college is accredited by the U.S. Department of Education and/or some regional variation and the social work program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. This means that my degree is social work meets the quality standards set out by the CSWE. It also means that my degree is valid and accepted by employers and other colleges nationwide (and worldwide). Now, let’s take the the University of Phoenix (the subject of the Times article). They are accredited by the U.S. Dept. of Education and/or some regional variation, but not with Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business which is the accrediting agency for business schools. So, when a student leaves U of Phoenix with a bachelor’s degree that person may have a difficult time getting a job in business because their degree is not valid with the AACSB. They may also have difficulty in getting any of those credits transfered to a traditional college. So, then they are left with thousands of dollars in students loans and no high paying job. It’s sad. It’s worse when I know someone is enrolled in such a program and there isn’t anything I can do to help them. It goes back to the old adage that if it’s too good to be true, then it probably is.
As I was driving through Itasca State Park on Friday, I heard a disturbing story on The World for NPR about the Marines in Afghanistan training Afghan soldiers. The Marines were joking about how they were unable to pronounce the names of their Afghan colleagues, so rather than trying to learn to pronounce the names the Marines gave them new names. These new names were various references to they way the Afghan soldiers looked or on United States movies. One Afghan soldier was given the nickname “Toothless” another was given the name “Pedro” because the Marine claims that the Afghan soldier looked Latino. The NPR story wasn’t about this terrible cultural insensitivity, but about how the Marines were having difficulty training and trusting the Afghan soldiers they were training. Sadly, I think NPR and the Marines missed a possible connection between the insulting nicknames and the difficulty in the collaborative process. I wonder how much training and education the Marines get on the collaborative process and building successful teams through support and respect rather than intimidation and mockery.
As I was sipping my coffee this morning, reading my way through my Google reader, I was happy to see so many stories on International Women’s Day. Granted, my Google reader is stacked with feminist bloggers and organizations working to end gender based violence so it was bound to be that way. Inevitably, many of the stories surround the issue of gender based violence. I started noticing the different methods of addressing gender based violence–service provision or macro-level change. These are not mutually exclusive nor all inclusive. Just two areas on a continuum.
Many of the service provision stories come out of the United States whereas macro-level stories tend to come from abroad. This seems to be a common theme around issues of social change. I’m taking a social welfare history class right now. We are currently discussing the professionalization of social work. It’s something my cohort has been discussing for the last year and half. What did social work lose by choosing professionalization?
In the U.S., professionalization has moved social work through social reform to social work through social service. I think the definition of social work as social service provision has narrowed the field–in thought, in action, and in development of social workers. We have plenty of micro-practitioners interested in providing individual service and a dearth of macro thinkers to develop innovative ideas for social change. I’m not saying we don’t need both because I truly believe micro-practitioners are important to social work practice. However, I’d love to see a lot more focus on macro level changes. More social workers interested in what is now considered radical practice.
Without having read the original research article from this report (I know–bad academic), I’d have to agree with the reported findings. I’m currently taking a teaching methods class which places a lot of emphasis on learning styles. The emphasis on learning style makes learning scienitifc and easily applicable to all subjects when I just don’t think this is the case. I think what is being lost in the emphasis in learning and/or teaching styles is: subject content and relationships. My learning style tends to vary with what I am learning. There are some subjects where I am a very verbal learner and others where I like to have more reflection. However, what always increases my ability to learn, is the level of engagement with the instructor. If the instructor is approachable, creates a safe learning environment, and is excited about teaching their subject it will reflect in the way they present information and engage their students. As I begin my teaching career, these are the things I hope to bring to the classes I teach.
I’m a second year Social Work PhD student with a minor in Public Health at the University of Minnesota. I have a BSW from College of St.Catherine/St. Catherine University and a MSW with a concentration in Program Development, Policy, and Administration from Augsburg College. My main research area is examining social learning theory as a prevention tool, specifically, the socialization of men into fatherhood and the parenting and partnering practices of men who have been exposed to domestic violence as children. In addition, I’m interested in prevention of gender based violence by engaging men in prevention efforts and how structural violence contributes to the transmission of HIV/AIDS and health disparities in women