Telling Tales Outside of School – Youth Workers’ Stories


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Over the last few days there has been a Facebook exchange about the importance of bringing together youth workers’ own experience of becoming, of being a youth worker. Whilst our Campaign has focused on telling the story of the specific interaction between youth worker and young person, there is a need for alternative and complementary stories. Enter Team Youthwork over at

Since the summer they have published a number of interviews with youth workers, the latest of which, Slipping into Youth Work, is refreshing in its honesty. On asked if he was being romantic about his relationships with young people.

Youth Worker: Romanticism? I suppose in a way it is romantic to imagine going out into a wild uncharted space and making up your curriculum and making up your ethos and your plans and your techniques on your feet as you go along. You could, you could see that as being romantic if you like, but it was a method that I was happy with. I never answered the same question twice, I never coped with a challenge in the same way twice…

All of which is likely to throw those, desiring to turn youth work into an instrument of the prescribed and predictable, into a paroxysm of despair. How can anyone be so naive?

Indeed we are told by a spokesperson of a new generation of social pragmatists, ‘modern professionals, that history has come to a close.  Evidently we must recognise that there is no prospect ever of public support or political backing for ‘progressive’ youth work. Evidently we must embrace new political ideas rather than shying away from them.

Meanwhile , whilst we await the ever promised dawn of what is considered to be ‘new’, we will continue defending and reflecting upon a tradition of informal, creative and democratic education, still unfulfilled, yet inspiring, that stretches back to Socrates and urges us to act now with the future in mind. History is never settled, ever contested.

Let’s tell tales outside of school with all their contradictions, tensions and uncertainty.

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