For quite a long time I’ve been mithered about my role in maintaining this IDYW blog. Don’t get me wrong I’m happy to continue as best I can, but at times I yearn for the freedom to be more controversial than might be becoming for a coordinator and for the space to write about stuff other than youth work. Hence I’ve created a new personal blog at Chatting Critically, which I hope will be complementary, challenging and of some interest. My attempted rationale is to be found below.
If you happen upon this new blog, Chatting Critically, and you’ve come across my thoughts as Coordinator of the In Defence of Youth Work web site, you might well wonder what I’m up to? Why do I need another outlet for my ramblings?
Three immediate reasons spring to mind.
In my role as coordinator of In Defence of Youth Work [IDYW] through the eight years of its existence I’ve sometimes felt trapped between two stools. On the one hand I’ve worried that my perspective has carried too much weight as I comment on the undulations of the youth work landscape ; that I don’t reflect sufficiently [how could I?] the diverse opinions of those supportive of IDYW’s overarching commitment to a young person-centred, process-led practice. On the other I’ve also censured my more outlandish and dissident reflections, concerned that their appearance might damage IDYW’s image. All a bit tortuous, I know.
In addition I’ve increasingly wanted to comment on the wider political scene, especially as the neo-liberal consensus fractures and alternatives, albeit fragile, emerge. Obvious possibilities for a rant are to be found within the turmoil besetting the Labour Party. Am I a Corbynista? More than a few good friends have pinned their colours to this particular red flag. And, am I alone in being deeply irritated at the almost Soviet style propaganda flooding the news channels, in which the parade of Olympian ‘heroes’ serves to mask the day-to-day experience of a deeply divided society? And it’s the fortieth anniversary of the Grunwicks strike, which I’d like to celebrate with a memory or two.
For quite a long time I’ve fancied bringing together in one place bits and pieces from the past, which still seem to resonate. Indeed the title of the blog, Chatting Critically, harks back to my crucial involvement in the Critically Chatting Collective, whose existence through the eighties and nineties was a huge source of strength. Steve Waterhouse, to whom this blog is dedicated, was a challenging, anarchic voice in our debates and activity. As things unfold I hope to post some of our relevant writings from that period on this blog.
Hence I’m hoping to use this blog as a medium for my opinionated musings on youth and community work, to which I’ll offer links on the IDYW web site plus my occasional rants on the meaning of life and why neo-liberalism, to borrow a phrase from my fellow Leyther*, Paul Mason, ‘doesn’t give a shit’.
As time goes by here’s hoping you might find stuff of some interest contained within and if you respond, I’ll be well chuffed.
*A Leyther hails from the town of Leigh, Lancashire in the North-West of England
Hi Tony, thank you. The critical voice analysing youth work within a neoliberal framework is precisely what we need more of in relation to the discourse here in the north of Ireland. I write occasionally on the need for critical dialogue, critical emancipatory education, and person/youth centered process, within the practice d within wider society – and it is the bread and butter of my practice working in the Belfast for the last decade. I keep a blog which focuses on some of the questions you discuss. Feel free to have a read. I will be following the work of IDYW and hope you build links with you moving forward.