My favourite youth work blogger, James Ballantyne, kicks off the New Year with a list of questions it’s difficult to resist answering. His musing starts from pondering whether all youth workers are huddled in cold offices.
Read in full at I wonder, does every Youthworker……?
That got me thinking – what else – apart from the ability to work in a cold office – what other experiences of youth work might be pretty much common, or even universal to all youth workers?
- Do all youth workers have a positive experience of being ‘youth worked’ as a young person?
- Do all youth workers have large DVD collections (we could be specific and suggest actual titles)
- I wonder – do all faith-based youth workers either start or grow up evangelical? – some might stay.
- Do all youth workers hope they had better supervision?
- Have all youth workers used at least one ‘ready to use guide’ in youthwork magazine?
- Have all youth workers had to try and describe what they do by saying what they’re not? (ie police, social worker, teacher)
- Do all youth workers find the dark spots even when the light is blazing bright?
- Do all youth workers love that moment when it ‘just clicks’ between themselves and a young person – that moment of conversation, moment of trust, moment of significance
- Do all youth workers wish more people would ‘get’ what youth work actually is
- Do all youth workers know the feeling of just running on adrenalin during a residential weekend with young people – but also loving every single minute of it
- Have all youth workers (in the UK) read either something by Pete Ward, Jeffs and Smith, Paulo Freire, Danny Brierley or Richard Passmore?
- Do all youth workers cringe at being subjected to the same ice-breakers that they subject young people to?
- Has every youth worker had the ‘Why me?’ moment when the mini-bus breaks down half way up the M6, or young people smash windows on the residential, or terrorise the neighbours, or run across the roadr, drunk, just when you are with them on detached (maybe that one is just me) – but the ‘why me?’ moment none the less.
- Has every youth worker took positives from the ‘why me?’ moment – either for themselves, the memories and experiences created or the relationship building with such challenging young people… yeah,, thought so..
- Does every youth worker secretly wish they got paid as much as a teacher but glad they don’t have to do the work or have the day to day pressure a teacher does.
- Does every youth worker drink coffee? ( actually no this isn’t true)
- Is every youth worker on Facebook?
- Does every youth worker love the variety of every day, of every week and every moment with young people?
- Does every youth worker hate it when young people are misrepresented, judged unfairly and not listened to?
- Does every youth worker work in a cold office space?
Nodding much? ..I thought so… I reckon I am at least 15 of these and so I wonder if they are just ‘highlights’ of my own experience as a youth worker, and I imagine many of you reading this will be able to add others to the list. It’s a bit like those magazines, if you scored 0-8 you’re not a proper youth worker, or ‘are you new?’ , score 8-15..and so on.. but
There are times when the world of youth work brings out the distinctions in people’s practices, beliefs or intentions, but I wonder deep down most youth workers share many common experiences of cold office spaces, misunderstood practice, love for coffee and DVD’s, and desire better supervision – all because they invest and care deeply about young people.
PS In a provocative tweet James asks, ‘Call yourself a youth worker? Maybe getting 15/20 is the benchmark?’