Happy Anniversary: The 50th online journal
Ralph Waldo Emerson once observed that the English language "is the sea which receives tributaries from every region under heaven". Welcome to the 50th CYC Net On-Line Journal and what a big occasion this is. Let me start by congratulating Brian and Thom for having the energy to see this journal thru every month. Writing as an editor of a bi-annual journal, I know that this is no easy task. So, let me take stock.
I see this On-Line Journal as being very significant in facilitating the ever-growing international readership with opinion that is always current. I say international because we now have regular columns from Ireland, Scotland, South Africa, New Zealand, Canada and the United States. It’s no easy feat for the editors to ensure that there is continuity of voice with little duplication of their written material. For my own part, I have poached some of these regular voices to sit on the review editorial board of the Irish Journal of Applied Social Studies and this has greatly enriched the Irish experience.
If I was to make one overall comment on what we voices have in common, it is that we are on a shared journey together with very many similar experiences in our respective child and youth care systems. The history of residential child and youth care in Canada, for example, mirrors to a large extent that of the Irish one (see Charles & Gabor, 1990). The struggles within child and youth care in the United States around identity are matched in Scotland as we know from Mark Smith’s columns. There has been significant debate over the past twenty years regarding whether child and youth care is a profession or a discipline in Canada, the United States and in Ireland to name but three systems (Beker, 2001; Kreuger 2002; McElwee & Garfat, 2003).
With this On-Line Journal, we don’t need to travel to the local library and thumb through dusty volumes to see what some of the ‘big’ names, or leaders, have to say about all things child and youth care. We just click a mouse onto our home page and, hey presto, we’re in.
I really like the relaxed style that one can employ in the On-Line Journal. It’s a place where people can truly be themselves and be unafraid to think outside the traditional boxes we inhabit – whether that be in a college or practice environment. I remember fondly when I was researching my Doctoral thesis and I went to spend some time working with my research partners – the children and youth of a school called St. Augustine’s in Limerick, Ireland – they asked for me to read out my questionnaire. Having heard the boring academic jargon I had in mind for them, one of the lads said to me "Ask us the questions we really want people to ask us!" This was a profound comment and has shaped my thinking on working with and researching with young people. Ask questions in a language they understand, one that is non-threatening and one that makes sense to their cultural world. So too with our On-Line Journal.
On a monthly basis, it attempts to attract and retain students, academics, practitioners and managers in the child and youth care field. Now, my experience is that this takes an intimate knowledge of what might appeal to all four categories and Brian and Thom rise to the task. In fact, readership is growing.
After I complete this column, I’m off to pick up Dr Grant Charles from Dublin Airport to facilitate a week’s teaching in my Department at the Athlone Institute of Technology. Jack Phelan and Dr Thom Garfat have visited and lectured in my Department and Professor Leon Fulcher presented his wonderful Images CD Rom to the Irish Association of Social Care Educators in my Department last October. I’ve been to visit with Jack in Edmonton, Thom in Quebec and Grant in Calgary. Who would have thought just a couple of years ago that such relationships would be formed - first through the virtual world of the CYC Net and then through each of us travelling to visit one another in our own countries.
In my daily job at the college, I have to read dozens of e mails, sift thru snail mail, consult college documentation, edit material for my own journal and correct student dissertations amongst endless administration. But, once a month, I really look forward to reading the thoughts of my friends across the world. The On-Line Journal is the child and youth care sea, which has many tributaries in many countries. So, here’s to our 50th and a happy birthday to us all.
Beker, J. (2001). Development of a professional identity for the child care worker. Child and Youth Care Forum, 30(6), pp345-354.
Charles, G. & Gabor, P. (1990). An historical
perspective on residential services for troubled and troubling youth in
Canada. In G. Charles & S. McIntyre (eds.). The Best in Care:
Recommendations for the Future of Residential Services for Troubled and
Troubling Young People in Canada. Ottawa: Canadian Child Welfare
Krueger, M. (2002). A further review of the development of the child and youth care profession in the United States. Child and Youth Care Forum, 31(1), pp13-26.
McElwee, C. N. & Garfat, T. (2003). What’s in a name? Exploring title designations in child and youth care in Ireland. Irish Journal of Applied Social Studies. 4(1).