This day of the training was about youth work and education. What is youth work and what does it mean to you? What kind of qualities does a youth worker need to have? What is the difference between formal, informal and non formal education? The participants found the answers to these questions by doing creative and interactive assignments.
To start the day with a good mood and positive energy the program started off with an energizer named ‘toaster, James Bond, washing machine and elephant’. During this exercise the group formed a circle. One of the participants was placed in the middle of the circle and pointed out to someone standing in the circle shouting ‘toaster’ or ‘James Bond’. That person then had to act like a toaster or like James Bond, which resulted in very funny scenarios.
Workshop 1: What is youth work and what does it mean to you?
After a good morning start the participants went off to a more serious part of the program. Being divided in four groups they spoke about four topics: ‘what youth work is for me’, ‘my values and believes in youth work’, ‘my role in the youth field’ and ‘my experience with inclusion’. After these discussions each group made a world cloud that illustrated the outcome of each discussion.
For most of the participants youth work is about helping others develop themselves and creating mutual understanding between majority and minority groups in society. They feel that exclusion of people is born out of ignorance, which can be taken away by youth work and informal education.
Vedat Öngün (Turkey) is an English teacher and does voluntary work at an orphanage and elderly house. He says:
‘The people who are being excluded feel unhappy. It is not easy to make unhappy people feel happy again, because society looks at them differently, as if they are bad people. We are trying to change their perspective by including them in the situation of others.’
Laura Martin (Catalonia) who is a primary school teacher and a socio-cultural animator says:
‘The people who are being excluded are not the problem. The problem is the ignorance of the rest of the society. As a youth worker you are more a friend of the youngsters. In contrary to formal education you can teach people to be understanding and tolerant through this open friendship, which is a whole different experience.’
Workshop 2: What kind of qualities does a youth worker need to have?
After a nice coffee break the participants followed a second workshop. Remaining in the four groups that they were divided into in the morning they received a large piece of paper with a puppet, which represented a youth worker, drawn on it. After knowing what youth work is all about and how it can be a tool for decreasing discrimination and exclusion, the question that had to be answered now was ‘what does a youth worker need to perform his job successfully?’. What kind of knowledge does (s)he has to have, what kind of values and qualities does (s)he have to embody?
Near the head of the puppet the groups had to write the knowledge they felt a youth worker needed to have, near the heart the values and near the feet the abilities.
Through dialogue and discussions the groups tried to find out what would make them successful as a youth worker. Gradually they came up with a list of values and qualities.
According to the groups, the main type of knowledge that a youth worker needs to have is awareness of issues and services in society. What kind of problems do we face and what kind of services exist to help tackle these problems?
The values that were mentioned the most were ‘respect’, ‘tolerance’ and ‘friendship’, as youth work is about helping people to be a better person and creating a more beautiful society.
As far as the abilities go ‘self-confidence’, ‘open-minded’ and ‘responsible’ were the most common ones, because in order to help someone else you have to be stable yourself, be strong enough to take responsibility and be able to see and understand different kind of perspectives.
The outcomes were very enriching to all of the participants. Kerli Koor (Estonia) who works as a youth worker and manages a youth centre says:
‘I am getting a lot of new ideas during this training and it’s only the second day. Being here allows me to develop myself, get new skills, but also analyze myself and see what I need to improve in order to implement new ideas and do a better job.’
Workshop 3: What is formal, non-formal and informal education?
After lunch, the third workshop started. This time the participants had another fun and creative assignment. All of them were split into three group and each group got a topic of either ‘formal education’, ‘non-formal education’ or ‘informal education’. First they had to find out the meaning of their form of education. After that they had to make a short video about it. They could decide for themselves what and where they were going to shoot.
The group that illustrated ‘formal education’ made a nice film at the hotel, portraying on one side a class room where the teaching method is very regulated and with strict assignment rules. On the other side, trying to show different kind of formal systems, they showed a class room that also has a regulated system, but is not that strict and where there is more room for the students creativity.
The group that was assigned to explain non-formal education shot an interview they held amongst themselves, during which they explained that non-formal education and training takes place outside recognized educational institutions. For example, the skills you acquire during voluntary or youth work is part of non-formal education.
The group that received the topic of ‘informal education’ went to the beach and shot a video about a baby that is trying to learn to walk. We all learned to walk but never got a grade or diploma for it. This kind of learning doesn’t happen in any kind of educational institution or organization. It does not involve diploma’s or certifications. It is just what we learn through experience.
In the end this day was a very fruitful and enriching day. All the participants got a boost of fun and inspiration and will have more of that in the next days.
Back to you Vanessa!