A few weeks ago I linked to a piece I’d scribbled for the new look Youth & Policy – Treasuring, but not measuring: Personal and social development. I must confess to being pleased that the Centre for Youth Impact has felt moved to respond in a generous, yet inevitably critical way in a blog, jointly written by Bethia McNeil, Pippa Knott and Matt Hill, the Centre’s core team – Standing up for being counted: When treasuring is measuring, and why we might need a rethink. Within it, they seek to address the challenges found in the current dominant measurement framework and propose a rethink of the value of measurement in youth work.
The blog opens as follows:
Back in March this year, we hosted an event focused on measurement in personal and social development. We were really pleased to see Tony Taylor’s recent article in Youth and Policy, following up on the discussion, and agree that it would have been most beneficial had there been more time and space to explore the themes. Indeed, these themes are so vital that we felt moved to add our voice to Tony’s in this blog. Overall, we were struck at the many points where we agree with Tony’s forthright critique of the dominant paradigm in impact measurement, but there also remain some areas of fundamental disagreement – perhaps as might be expected in such a complex and contested area.
We agree that it might be harder to ‘measure’ the impact of youth work than other more targeted or narrowly defined forms of work with young people – but, for us, this demands that we develop how we measure and understand what really counts about youth work, and via a process that enriches rather than undermines practice.
I hope very much you will find time to absorb their argument in full and, as they propose, join a crucial and continuing discussion.
For my part, I’d like to respond afresh, but for the moment I’m struck by the significance of the position they articulate part way through the blog.
Our stance is that measurement is a fundamentally human activity that is woven into every aspect of our lives, and which helps us make sense of the world around us.
Changing just one word in this sentence captures, at least for me, perhaps the essence of our differing perspectives.
‘Our stance is that judgement is a fundamentally human activity that is woven into every aspect of our lives, and which helps us make sense of the world around us.’
To put it another way, we make judgements all of the time in our daily lives, whilst we take measurements only when appropriate.
And the debate will certainly continue in a week’s time at The Centre for Youth Impact Gathering 2017: Shaping the future of impact measurement
taking place on 11 September 2017, 10:00 – 16:30 at Platform Islington, Hornsey Road Baths, 2 Tiltman Place, London N7 7EE.
I’m not sure if there are still places available, but visit the above link to find out. I’d love to be there.