karen vanderven — from the soap box
Social constructivism and two ideas for the field
We all know the concept of "social constructivism" in contemporary learning theory — referring to the fact that knowledge is generated through the interaction of people — hence, is socially constructed. For example, children are 'scaffolded' into new levels of accomplishment and understanding through the coaching and encouragement of adults.
As we work to advance our own field of child and youth care, we need to make sure that some of our own interactions are extracted so that they might provide impetus to new viewpoints and activities. In a recent spirited conversation I had with your CYC-NET Editor, Thom Garfat, two notions emerged from the process of our interaction that I would like to share.
1. Develop your own area. We were lamenting the fact that, no matter how much some of us might do as individuals on the national front in any country, somehow the results were little or long in coming. From this came the notion that it could be valuable for individuals to concentrate on building systemic capacity in a circumscribed area — their own. Some tasks, for example, might involve
making sure that your own territory has a child care association
administrators responsive to the issues of child and youth care workers
a means of communication, and
formal training mechanisms
These could be highly effective, because as various territories were staked out and developed first here and there, and then becoming more dense — they could be connected and combined with those broader reaching movements. Each would empower the other.
2. First Generation Conference. We were lamenting another phenomenon that is often mentioned in informal conversation about the status of our field — that those of us active now need to make sure that there is a new wave of leadership being developed to bring continuance and dynamic energy in the future. The idea here — arrived at by Thom and immediately receiving an endorsement from me — is to have a portion of a future conference program(s) reserved for presentations from "new" people.
These new presenters could be recruited by 'old hands' and given guidance in preparing their proposals and presentations; and/or they could be primary presenters with their mentors taking supportive roles.
How about these? What do you think? Have a discussion with your colleagues and see what emerges!