READING FOR CHILD
AND YOUTH CARE WORKERS
What we, as adults today, see in any situation is not what the children see. Yet we once did see what the children see. Alan Roberts writes about an important, even vital, perspective in child care practice
phenomenologically with children
Hell is other people. — JEAN PAUL SARTRE
Two diametrically opposite existential positions — the poles at either end of the spectrum of existence.
Naturally "other people" includes children — one's own children or other people's children or both. Perhaps particularly in relation to children, one comes to feel more powerfully pulled and pushed from and towards either of these two existential poles.
the life of another
Imagination and memory
However, working phenomenologically depends on the extent to which the individual adult can permit herself to be aware of the story of her own past, and the extent of her servility to it and curtailment by it in the present.
Perceiving, through the use of imagination and memory, what it*s like to be the child can be threatening for the adult with strict, critical, (introjected) parents who condemned, censured and criticised him/her from behaving, thinking and feeling like a child in the past. For such an adult, hell is children. Especially children who don*t behave themselves".
Freedom to commit
Working phenomenologically thus involves
in addition to conscious perception, employing memory and imagination,
being well aware of one's own past childhood and how it affects one's
work with children in the present, and lastly, stepping unreservedly
into relationship and real dialogue.
Austin, 0. and Halpin, W. Seeing
"I to I": A Phenomenological Analysis of the Caring
Relationship. The Child Care Worker, Vol.7, No. 3, March
1989. (Reprinted from the Journal of Child Care.)
Alan Roberts was a child care worker at the Oranjia Children's Home in Cape Town