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Showing posts from May, 2011

Dilemmas of practice: What's a youth worker to do?

By Kate Walker Youth work practice is complex and dynamic. It is riddled with situations that are layered and involved, dealing with multiple considerations and changing circumstances. These dilemmas represent the knotty situations even experienced practitioners face every day. In these situations, there is no formula or manual that tells the youth worker what to do. Last week, Cece wrote about how personal ethics inform decision making in these situations. Much of my work focuses on the dilemmas of youth work - exploring the range of dilemmas encountered, as well as the features of effective responses. This spring, youth workers participating in the Youth Work Institute course Deliberate Practice Matters were introduced to recent research I co-wrote on the diversity and complexity of dilemmas that youth workers face daily, and how their responses influence program quality. Together, they dug into the sticky challenges and issues of everyday youth work and examined ways to resp

How do your ethics reveal themselves in your work with youth?

By  Cecilia Gran A youth worker in Minneapolis told me about how she dealt with conflict between English-speaking and Hmong-speaking youth at her neighborhood recreation center. The English-only speakers accused the Hmong speakers of talking about them, and situation brewed into a fistfight. To resolve the problem, the youth worker made a rule that they must all speak English while they were at the center. She felt that her solution attempted to level the playing field between the groups of youth. But did it? I think this youth worker had good intentions, but the outcome of her decision ended up being unjust and unfair to the Hmong-speaking youth. Our decisions and judgments are never neutral, even when we intend them to be. Decisions like the one this youth worker made are are decided in the moment with the intent to be as fair and just as possible. The tricky thing is that these dilemmas and their subsequent decisions are informed by our own ethics and values. Often, they requi

Valor Publico: Translating youth leadership from Mexico

By Pamela Larson Nippolt On a trip to Mexico a couple of weeks ago as a participant in National Extension Leadership Development , I had a chance to see a community health organization that is still going strong 20 years after being founded by a group of youth. As a youth development educator, I was struck by the power of youth when they are engaged as leaders in their community. As an program evaluator, I got to thinking about factors that play into sustaining a program and its overall value to the public over time. Our hosts, a family of five, warmly oriented our group of three Extension educators, despite our limited Spanish. We quietly sat with the matriarch of the family in the courtyard under the rock "gate," a formation that crowns the nearest mountain and creates an opening to the sky. The eldest daughter Lety greeted us as she returned from the Atekokolli clinic in the village that she helped to found on communal land. As a child, Lety was at her grandmother&