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Transcripts of Selected Group Discussions on CYC-Net

Since it's founding in 1997, the CYC-Net discussion group has been asked thousands of questions. These questions often generate many replies from people in all spheres of the Child and Youth Care profession and contain personal experiences, viewpoints, as well as recommended resources.

Below are some of the threads of discussions on varying Child and Youth Care related topics.

Questions and Responses have been reproduced verbatim.

ListenListen to this

Social pedagogy?

I am hearing more about social pedagogy these days. Is it just a different name for Child and Youth Care work?

I look forward to hearing your views.

Carolyn Jenner

Careful Carolyn, your comment is dismissive in tone,… ‘just a different name’. If you want to know more about social pedagogy there is much readily available about this 150+-year old discipline and profession. A good place to start might be:  (and indeed there is a lot of connection to the more recently emerged discipline of Child and Youth Care)

Ian Milligan

Hello Carolyn,

There are many similarities. I have been on a journey over the last 10 years into social pedagogy (SP). It spoke to me because it offered a theoretical and practice basis for much of the work I had been doing intuitively in residential child care.

However I have learned that it is potentially much more powerful than its relational aspects. It is a tradition that underpins societal relationships in a number of European countries, the Nordic countries are most often cited but the philosophical roots of SP are in Germany.

The philosophy of SP has at its core promoting social justice and addressing disadvantage and discrimination in society. It is a philosophy that fosters social cohesion, brings people together to work to develop both their own potential and that of their fellow citizens. One way of looking at the work of SP is education in its broadest sense and part of this education is understanding and addressing social injustice.

The countries in which the practice of SP is embedded are generally those that have the smallest wealth inequalities, are rated as the happiest by the OECD, have the best social welfare and educational provision.

These would be the countries disparaged as socialist by the neo-liberal right who have held sway in north America and the UK for the past 40 years and therein lies the challenge as SP is being introduced as an intervention rather than a whole system cultural change in these countries. This use of SP can either be viewed idealistically as a benevolent Trojan Horse that will gradually influence societal change towards a more socially just state of affairs or pessimistically as a symptom of the futile search for the magic bullet to resolve societal ills without interfering with power and greed of the elites as is the way in neo-liberal ‘democracies’.
I can recommend this website to learn more;

Jeremy Millar

Whoa ,congratulate you are sure raising an interesting question!

I hope you receive many answers. If not , I Will be glad to respond.

Greetings, Hans Eriksson
Trondheim , Norway

I do feel there are similarities between the two but also distinctions that can be made also. Perhaps this attachment would be helpful. I am more than happy to contribute further in this discussion if it would be found to be useful.

Michael Greig


We are unable to send attachments to the discussion group. The attachment mentioned is the article: Social Pedagogy in Practice by Holthoff and Eichsteller, Every Child Journal, 1 (1). – Eds

Hi Carolyn

My back ground (education and experience) is Child and Youth Care in Canada. I have lived in England for a number of years working with children and families, and the field of Child and Youth Care doesn't exist over here although there are similar roles to those we would see in the field e.g. Youth work, residential social work, but as a field Child and Youth Care doesn't exist. However, several years ago the government began to look at social pedagogy as a way to develop the children and young people's workforce. Social pedagogy shares a lot of similarities to Child and Youth Care however, social pedagogues work cradle to grave. Social pedagogy is very popular in the other European countries e.g. Germany, Denmark, Sweden. Social pedagogy has been around for years, and like Child and Youth Care draws on a number of different theoretical approaches to inform and develop practice.

I discovered a social pedagogy network in the UK which has a specific focus on working with children, young people and their families and when I went to my first network meeting, I felt I had finally found my "people" as they were talking about life space, social justice practice, developmental work, relational practices etc. I quickly realised that we share a lot in common with social pedagogues but they are definitely a well established field working in different settings.

Sandy Posnikoff

Hi All

Carolyn raises an excellent question that we really need much more dialogue about across the field. I think some of the responses so far highlight that we need to be cautious not to attempt to make either superior or be dismissive, or to dismiss genuine enquiry. Child and youth care practitioners have long struggled for identity and to own its knowledge, despite 150 years of pedagogy so a greater understanding of both can only help us all.

Kathleen Mulvey

Dear Carolyn,

Thank you for this question which I want to answer as the manager of a social pedagogical child care unit in Upper Austria, Europe.

Generally, social pedagogy is a form of Child and Youth Care work, based on humanistic principles, a holistic approach to child development and pedagogical methods, also with some social therapeutic aspects. A lot of the theories and methods behind it stem from Europe; we largely refer to German, Swiss and Austrian sources, lately also more to American ones. There is a half decent definition and explanation to social pedagogy available on Wikipedia

If you would like to find out more about our work, please look here

Kind regards,
Manfred Humer

Dear Carolyn,

From the 1960s to the late 1980s in the residential child care and education course he led at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Haydn Davies Jones (the principal herald social pedagogy in the UK) interwove the work and ideas of Fritz Redl and Henry Maier with his discourse on social pedagogy. Hans Kornerup in the book ** he edited brought together ideas from social pedagogy and from Winnicott and the psychodynamic work of therapeutic communities in the United Kingdom.

There is an interesting article about social pedagogy by Vicki Bird and Gabriel Eichsteller at and a short introductory piece by Mark Smith can be found there.

**Kornerup, H.(ed) (2009) Milieu Therapy with children : Planned Environmental Therapy in Scandinavia; London; Karnac Books. This is a comprehensive theoretical and practical guide to the use of milieu therapy which begins to build a bridge between psychodynamic and social pedagogic approaches to residential child care. (I think this book needs a better English translation but nevertheless it is very interesting).
I hope this is helpful,

Best wishes,
Charles Sharpe

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