MMU BA Y&C course under threat! Advice and support appreciated.

The BA [Honours] Youth and Community course at the Manchester Metropolitan University is facing a precarious future. Against this worrying backcloth Janet Batsleer, Reader in Education and Principal Lecturer, Youth and Community, writes to ask our readers the following question.

What would you design into a Community Education course for the future that builds on the learning of the past 40 years or so? Or would you just close it down?

Your replies should be sent to Janet at J.Batsleer@mmu.ac.uk and would be much appreciated.

 

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Tony Taylor, Jon Ord and Janet Batsleer at the IDYW conference

 

These are indeed troubled times.

The cuts are taking youth clubs back to their Victorian roots – Sue Shanks in the Guardian

Just in case you missed it here’s the link to Sue’s insightful piece in the Guardian this week.

The cuts are taking youth clubs back to their Victorian roots

 

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Sue chats to Malcolm Ball at last week’s conference – ta to Justin Wyllie

 

Greetings on International Women’s Day. #Be Bold, Be Brave!

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Originally called International Working Women’s Day, it was first celebrated on February 28, 1909, in New York in remembrance of a 1908 strike of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union when 15,000 workers, including many immigrants, marched through the city’s lower east side to demand social and political rights.

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The first modern International Women’s Day was held in 1914, five years after its inception, on March 8. The day was chosen because it was a Sunday, which the majority of women would have off work allowing them to participate in marches and other events, and has been celebrated on that date ever since.

And today, in the USA, women are proposing ‘A day without a woman’.

In the same spirit of love and liberation that inspired the Women’s March, we join together in making March 8th A Day Without a Woman, recognizing the enormous value that women of all backgrounds add to our socio-economic system–while receiving lower wages and experiencing greater inequities, vulnerability to discrimination, sexual harassment, and job insecurity. We recognize that trans and gender nonconforming people face heightened levels of discrimination, social oppression and political targeting. We believe in gender justice.

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Just a question – what conversations are taking place in the youth work world today about women’s liberation, the idea of a women’s strike – the collective struggle?

 

Department of Media, Sport and Culture to offer a new narrative, within which young people are passionate, happy and valued………. Suspend your disbelief and have your say?

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Back in November 2016, at the Ambition conference, Rob Wilson, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, closed his self-congratulatory speech with the following announcement.

” There is so much to look forward to in this sector. Indeed, I’m delighted to announce that over the coming months we’ll be developing a new youth policy statement. This statement will bring together a clear narrative and vision for how we best help our young people.

It will highlight the opportunities that come with our move to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport – how we can use our new position to give young people a greater engagement with our sporting and cultural heritage.

We want to benefit from your insights and wisdom. This new statement should draw on your experiences and celebrate the innovative work that is already happening.

I’m keen for it to act as a road map until at least 2020 and to show where this Government is heading with youth policy so you can see where to work with us along the way.

More than anything I want the statement to be a commitment to every young person. That we will help them pursue their passions, lead happy, independent lives and feel an active, engaged and valued part of their communities.”

For the moment we will leave to one side the gulf between the rhetoric of the last paragraph and the precarious reality facing so many young people and report our limited understanding of what’s going on re yet another ‘new’ policy statement. The best I can glean goes as follows:

According to Ambition, alongside sector colleagues, they have been working with the Youth Policy team at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to ensure a wide range of organisations and partners feed into the call for evidence to help inform the youth policy statement.

  1. As is often the case a degree of mystery surrounds the identity of the youth organisations ushered into the corridors of power at the DCMS. Clarification would be welcomed.
  2. As far as the consultation goes the DCMS are holding several regional workshops ‘aiming to engage groups of stakeholders that are representative of organisations involved in designing, delivering and funding youth provision’. One snag might be being recognised as a stakeholder. The events are invitation only.
  3. There is to be an online call for evidence from folk not holding big enough a stake, who can run their own workshops, armed with a facilitator’s brief from the DCMS.
  4. The ‘eagerly awaited’ policy statement will target six themes: a shared understanding of young people’s personal and social development; evidencing the impact of work with young people; developing a coherent local youth offer; making youth social action a habit for life; involving young people in decision-making; and securing an independent and sustainable youth sector.
  5. There’ll be no additional dosh as the state-subsidised, less than independent National Citizen Service has to pay for its adverts and mailshots, whilst missing its targets.

More informed and knowledgeable comments welcomed. And I was going to have an alcohol-free day.

Doug Nicholls on reviving trade union and popular education

We have pleasure in posting Doug’s thoughts on trade union education as a guest blog, accompanied by an advert for an enticing job opportunity with the General Federation of Trade Unions [GFTU] as an Education Officer and the Education for Action programme.

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eors-job-advert-education-officer-pdf – the advertisement

jd-education-officer – the job description

gftu-education-in-action-bklt-8-32629 – the programme

Doug Nicholls

TRADE UNION EDUCATION FOR SOCIAL CHANGE – join the discussion
Doug Nicholls, General Secretary of the General Federation of Trade Union, believes that trade union education urgently needs a revitalised content and a new method of delivery.
In an article in the Morning Star Dr John Fisher reminded us of the effect of years of state funding for trade union education. He who pays the piper calls the tune. A generation of trade union learners have had the political content stripped from their learning. I argue also that the form of training delivery has mirrored the neutralised content and helped to teach ignorance and obedience.
The Establishment teach their children to rule from an early age, prep school to public school to Oxbridge. At heart they learn the arrogant and confident mannerisms of rulers, an ability to talk about anything as if they know something about it.
They learn some concepts and history; this is why they focus on politics, philosophy and economics (PPE).
Once upon a time the best unions would engage workers in these subjects too. Courses would commence with discussions about the world we wanted to live in and the laws that underpin capitalist economics and a socialist alternative. This was done to develop understandings and convictions that would build our organisations and provide the motivation for learning the skills necessary to win for our members and transform the political scene.
This tradition was then turned on its head. Trade union training got locked into considerations of a very narrow range of technical and vocational areas, tutors became purveyors of information and facts, classes looked more like school rooms than workers discussion circles, qualification replaced empowerment, learners were told what to learn instead of encouraged to learn from their experience, rigid curricula stifled debate. As state-funded adult education disappeared, so elements of trade union training became a poor substitute, signposting learners to dwindling vocational opportunities while the market let rip.

 

 

It was all very interesting knowing the detail of redundancy and health and safety legislation, but all very irrelevant if the workplace was closing down as if because of forces of nature or fate. Education proved a thin shield as the post-war social democratic consensus and manufacturing based economy were being transformed into today’s neoliberal nightmare.
While most people feel that austerity is wrong, very few can articulate why it has come about and the political and economic alternative to it. In reality the popular consensus has bought into the whacky idea that the debt and deficit are the cause of our problems.
When bankers say they create wealth, few union reps seem able these days to counter this joke with an assertion of the labour theory of value and remind them that everything in their marble vaults comes from us. The effect of falling rate of profit has been forgotten and our problems attributed superficially to ‘greedy bankers.’
Worse still workers are being decapitated from the body of knowledge of our history of struggle as a Movement. We have to re-construct a living appreciation of our past to accelerate a better future.
There is clearly a desperate need to revive political, philosophical, historical and economic inquiry as the basis for trade union education.
Equally there is a need to modernise the methods of learning delivery to make it inspirational and life changing. A very peculiar thing has happened in Britain in this regard. The progressive debate on how workers learn best and what techniques really inspire them has almost completely bypassed trade union education circles and has been advanced instead in youth and community work, adult education and some school based traditions or radical pedagogy.
This is not the case in many other Labour Movements. They have embraced radical learning theories and methods that enhance the development of progressive politics and solid organisation. At the GFTU we have been looking at some of their work in Latin America, but look too at a book called Education for Changing Unions about the Canadian experience. Consider the work of Paulo Freire or Antonio Gramsci.
The way learning is delivered is as important as what is delivered, sometimes more so. Progressive learning techniques are linked to democratic practice and social change and have a long tradition in Britain going back to the Medieval ‘conventicles’ which argued that the Bible should be translated in English so that ‘the merest ploughboy could read the word of God’. Ultimately their work led to the collapse of the authority of the dominant Latin speaking Catholic Church and the aristocracy it propped up.
It continued through the dissenting churches whose ideas very much aided the birth of the unions, many Sunday schools were in fact very socialist. It flourished in Britain when many women trade unionists developed theories of youth engagement and community work to involve workers outside the workplace in the struggle for reforms. The richness of this tradition around the world can be explored on the fantastic website http://www.infed.org.uk.
The new priesthood of neoliberal pundits and politicians and the crowds of dilettante ‘economists’ who seek ultimately to persuade us that we are too stupid to run society in the interests of the majority, should be replaced by a new generation of deeply educated union activists able to see through the myths and compel us in another direction.
At the GFTU we have opened a forum on our website for all those interested in a progressive future for trade union education to swap notes, share details of good resources and examples and sharpen our minds. Please join the debate there http://www.gftu.org.uk. We are also looking for new partners and tutors to join our work delivering the highest quality independent working class education. Let’s change the content and form of trade union education and base it on participative, collective learning to demonstrate another world is possible with a new kind of PPE student in control of our country.

 

POSTSCRIPT

Ironically on the day we post Doug’s piece, there’s a long Guardian read, PPE: the Oxford degree that runs Britain

 

Facebook thread on Cadets, Militarisation, NCS and Youth Work

There is little doubt that our Facebook page followed by 2,877 people is the liveliest forum of ongoing debate about youth work in the UK. However, not everyone is a Facebook devotee or user. It is though possible to share at least some of the sparkiest conversations by providing a link via this website.

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As a starter, have a look at this thread, which starting from exchanges about further funding for cadet units spills into discussion about youth services, NCS, part-time workers and much more.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/90307668820/permalink/10154586347368821/

Credit to Natalie Ward-Toynton for kicking things off with this comment.

Over the last few daysI feel saddened by some of the responses around the additional cadet squadrons that are being opened up. I feel saddened because it seems to be compared with NCS scheme and that you all believe it’s a downfall of YW. Where actually the new sqns were part of the 2020 plan brought  into cadets in 2012. The cadets are funded by the MOD and these new sqns some additional money. It is also not a short term scheme like the NCS, young people from 12-19 are involved and it is youth work maybe unconventional youth work but it is.
Cadets doesn’t prepare you to join any armed forces it is about giving opportunities to young people with interests in aviation, leadership, adventure training, the list goes on.
Yes it’s sad youth work is always being cut, I am doing a youth work degree so I know  the lack of jobs in our field etc but please don’t hate on something that you may not fully understand the workings of.

YOUTH WORK: EDUCATING FOR GOOD OR PREVENTING THE BAD? MARCH 17 – book your place.

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THE 8th IN DEFENCE OF YOUTH WORK NATIONAL CONFERENCE and AGM

YOUTH WORK: EDUCATING FOR GOOD OR PREVENTING THE BAD?

FRIDAY, MARCH 17 at THE BIRMINGHAM SETTLEMENT

from 12.45 – 5.00 p.m.

Across at least the last two decades, arguments for the importance of youth work have turned increasingly to its preventative function. This has been especially noticeable in the campaigns across the country to protect and defend youth services. To take but one quote from a young activist involved in the brilliantly organised and ongoing campaign in Brighton, ‘there can be no doubting that the proposed cuts will lead to a marked increase in gang violence, drug abuse, teenage pregnancies, homelessness and suicide attempts among young people in the city.’

To what extent is such a claim a hostage to fortune, playing into the hands of those, who wish to fund only outcomes-led, targeted work as well as being deeply difficult to evidence? Or is it, in truth, the only argument, that will be listened to by both politicians and the community? Indeed, is this the reason we hear very little about defending youth work as, for example, education for active citizenship, even as this is rendered explicit through young people taking direct action on the streets?

We will be receiving participants from noon with the conference starting at 12.45 and finishing at 4.30 p.m. Our collective discussion in small groups will be organised around the stimulus provided by Bernard Davies’s historical overview of the tension in practice between education and prevention, followed by a Question Time session with activists involved in campaigns, drawing on their experiences of struggling to defend our work. We will do so in the supportive and reflective atmosphere, which over the years has characterised IDYW debates. A short AGM will follow, closing at 5.00 p.m.

Drinks will be available on arrival and at a break, but as per tradition bring your own lunch.
Cost will be £10 minimum waged, £5 student/unwaged

For directions to the welcoming Birmingham Settlement, 361 Witton Road, Aston, see http://www.birminghamsettlement.org.uk/contact-us/ Click on larger map.

To book a place contact Rachel at info.IDYW@gmail.com

Please circulate the flyers and encourage folk to attend.

theeighthindefenceofyouthworknationalconferenceandagm [Word]

theeighthindefenceofyouthworknationalconferenceandagm [pdf]