H I L D A   B A A R – K O O I J

Mark Hilda in hats    Blackboard

I came to social work by accident or …. by nature.

In the 1980’s I went to Teacher Training College where I grew up as a teacher with the ideas of Dewey, Freire, Illich and others. Their ideas helped me to define what kind of pedagogue I wanted to be.

In my years in education I witnessed how education turned into a business-like organisation with targets, goals, mission and vision, educational outcomes and international league tables. Instead of helping children to find their goal in life, making them capable to achieve their life tasks independently, education became a process of efficient and effective instructing towards the right answers. More and more I started to feel a maverick with my beliefs until a dear friend and social worker pushed me to attend a social groupwork camp. There I realised that, although trained as a teacher, at heart I was a social worker.


I chose Blackboard because …

… for me this symbolises the gap as well as the link between education and social work. Although there is education in social work, at present there is far too little social work in education. The word education derives from the Latin words educere (stretching and leading away from ignorance) and educare (growing and raising), (Veen et al., 1997). The pedagogue is the one leading the process of learning and growing, leading the learner away from ignorance into the world. Today, teachers have become instructors with inevitable consequences for the social development of children whereas social workers, skilled to facilitate learning processes, turned pedagogy into an art. At present many social workers in schools have to repair the damages of education. For me the true pedagogue is a mixture of social worker and teacher.

At present I help teachers to implement social work skills and knowledge into their daily practice, making them aware of the difference between instructing and facilitating learning. A wonderful journey in which teachers have to “change religion”: learning is not the result of teaching but occurs when there is a desire to know, understand or master something.

“When I saw the expression on their faces I was shocked to realise that I had never allowed them to learn. It was always me who steered, prompted, helped because that is what teachers do, don’t they? This was their own achievement. They were so proud”! (Statement by a teacher).

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