Ncercc Socialpedagogybook Chap02


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Ncercc Socialpedagogybook Chap02

  1. 1. Elsebeth Fog A social pedagogical perspective on milieu therapy Milieu therapy comprises different theoretical perspectives and treatment ideologies. Some perspectives focus on treatment, the aim of which is to change the person in the situation, while other perspectives have their emphasis on how resources can be used to promote change through activities and interaction. The main focus is on what is being done in conjunction with others, analysing how possibilities for action can be limited, and the meaning of participa- tion as affording the opportunity to learn, see and understand the possibilities in the context where the interaction is taking place. Different perspectives on milieu therapy often limit attention to either the treatment process or the residential milieu, and even when both the individuals and the environment are considered, they are often regarded as separate entities, rather than being defined as mutually interdependent and interactively related. Even people who claim to work on a milieu therapeutic basis in a residential institution for young people, when asked what they are doing, will state that they are working with treatment, and will use a variety of terms from ego psychology as transference to parallel processes and 1 projection to describe what they are doing. 1 The statement builds on teaching and supervision situations with staff from schools and treatment homes in Western Sweden, and participatory observa- tion. 24
  2. 2. The ideal therapeutic treatment milieu is described by Gunders- son in terms where the milieu is supposed to contain five thera- peutic activities: containment, support, structure, involvement and validation (Gundersson J. 1978). Gundersson’s variables were found to be present in a psychiatric ward that he studied. If the staff were asked to give examples, or, as in my case, a researcher is given the opportunity to participate as an observer in such an institution, it becomes clear, both from what is said and from observations made, that what they are really doing is acting in pedagogic processes. The title of the institution which is the object of the present study is ‘school and treatment home’, and the staff talked about the school as the core of the institution. The minimum of educational training for staff members was 30 ect credits in social pedagogy. Björn Widinghoff (2000) and Christer Cederlund (1996) have made similar observations. Even if the pedagogical dimension is mentioned in many of the descriptions and definitions of what milieu therapy is, or should be, pedagogical perspectives and learn- ing theories are seldom used as a theoretical base for action. These important points of departure are often displaced to give space to other theoretical perspectives. Widinghoff argues that even if other authors have stressed the pedagogic dimension and the importance of creating a learning milieu, they have not succeeded very well in developing the pedagogic perspective (Widinghoff 2000, 304). Through his research, Crister Stensmo (1979) experienced that many therapeutic communities that treated people addicted to alcohol or drugs regard the work they carry out as pedagogical. ‘A therapeutic community can be looked upon as an educational system’ (Stensmo 1979, 237). Sven Hessle (1985, 115–116) prefers to talk about social pedagogical communities instead of therapeutic communities. What does it mean to work from a social pedagogical perspective in milieu therapy? What is the difference between this perspective and the contextual didactic perspective in which a milieu is created that promotes the possibility of constructing new knowledge or gestaltning experiences? Is what we encounter in fact two sides of the same coin? 25
  3. 3. Social pedagogy Traditionally social pedagogy includes child protection (Rasmus- sen 1984; Lihme 1988; Kvaran 1996) and cultural work that is involved with both youngsters and adults (Addams 1910; Swedner & Swedner 1995). Cultural pedagogy, however, is close to sociocul- tural animation where work is often undertaken with adults in an educational situation. The pedagogue is a socialiser who works to strengthen people’s awareness of their own abilities and their con- textual resources (Talerud 1985). During the 1970s, there was great debate about how human beings could be integrated in society and how to work with net- works. From the theoretical perspective of social pedagogy, it is stressed that the human being develops in an interactive process with others. Social pedagogical theory has a group perspective. Ronnby, for example, argues that social pedagogy can be used as part of community work when working with groups from a mobili- sation perspective. He also believes that socio-political strategies are necessary to build a platform for social actions where the members of the mobilising group can stimulate each other and exchange ideas (Ronnby 1981; see also Wahlberg 1998). Social pedagogy consists of two words: social and pedagogy and the discipline’s founders have been inspired by social philosophy and social theory. In his Philosophy of Law, Hegel (1821) argues that three integrating mechanisms are important for the individual in becoming an integrated member of the national society. In society there are three different spheres where the individual learns the ethi- cal code: Family, Civil Society and the State. The family is the basis for the spontaneous learning processes such as work, standard of living, love and care all based on closeness, relationship and kinship. The civil society comes next with trade, economic and industrial life (today this is called the market), local groups, religious communities and all other sorts of communities. Lastly comes the national state where the legitimate law is or is not transferred into legal law. These are thoughts that can be rediscovered in Comenius’ Didactica Magna (1667/1989: Chapter 28). Hegel meant that the local ethical norms had a double nature. Firstly they were the 26
  4. 4. basic demands for the individual that he must do things for the common best, secondly the ethical norms were developed and con- firmed through a working community and by doing things together (Lorenzen 1998). Natorp (1899/1974) was inspired by Kant’s thoughts on the life of the will, and by Tönnies’ theories of ‘Gemeinschaft’ and ‘Gesellschaft’. Talerud (1985) believes that social pedagogy is close to Durcheim’s sociology inspired pedagogy, American educational sociology, Dewey’s democratic ideal of socialising children (Talerud 1985, 25) and Kerschensteiner’s citizen education through group work and self-government. Kerschensteiner was inspired by Dewey’s learning by doing and the southern German working culture. The theory of activity was put into practice by Harald Rasmus- sen. He defines social pedagogy as an activity where one works with a purpose, and towards a goal. The activities are aimed at caring for, raising, socialising and educating the child inside the framework of a residential institution. He argues that one has to differentiate between social pedagogy and special pedagogy; the latter belonging more to the sciences of medicine and psychology than to pedagogy (Rasmussen 1984). Milieu therapy Jenner states that milieu therapy describes different treatment and therapeutic principles, while community therapy, social psychiatry and social therapy describe different areas of treatment (Jenner 2000). In the therapeutic community, a therapeutic learning milieu is created as a small model of a societal community where different civic roles can be experimented with, and in which the socio-cul- tural process is an integral part of the treatment (Jones 1968). Max- well Jones (1968; 1973) talks of the ‘living-learning situation’. The creation of a therapeutic community, in his view, calls for learning of a peculiar immediate and personal nature on the part of all those involved in treatment. To some extent this can take place in a day-to-day fashion, but particular crises that arise in the community offer opportunities for intensified learning, or what we call living-learning experiences. 27
  5. 5. These involve the face-to-face confrontation of all the people con- cerned, and the joint analysis of the current interpersonal difficulty. Each individual is helped to become more aware of the thinking and feelings of the others, and this leads to a more comprehensive and holistic view of the situation as it affects each of the person involved. This exchange to a great extent revolves around conscious factors. Frequent exposure to situations of this kind, if handled skil- fully, can contribute to personality growth and maturation (Jones 1968, 105– 112; Jones 1973). Milieu therapeutic work comprises three basic principles: mutual (reciprocal) communication, joint resolutions and the development of a therapeutic culture. The key concepts are democracy that demands dialogue, voluntary participation and responsibility for the daily living, experience, learning and teaching situation in which new roles can be experimented with. A tolerance for symptoms and an openness to share what is being achieved is also important (Fog 2000; Jenner 2000). Birgitta Bechgaard (1995) has stressed that milieu therapy has its starting point in specific actions, and this is something which differentiates it from psychotherapy; its methods are both psychological and pedagogical. Kvaran (1996) sees milieu therapy as caring, raising/socialising and treatment. Through milieu therapy the young individual is afforded the opportunity to create new relationships and gain new experiences. If the term milieu therapy is to be used, it is necessary to describe what it is in the milieu that makes it therapeutic. The milieu itself cannot function neutrally (Vedeler 1973), rather it must be created in relation to the clients that are being treated (Aichorn 1978; Bettle- heim 1950; Redl &Wineman 1952 a&b). At first glance this state- ment seems obvious, but in fact this is not so. How can a milieu that functions as a therapeutic catalyst and a learning environment be created? The contextual didactic provides a theoretical perspec- tive on how to create a learning milieu in everyday life that affords an opportunity for development. From this perspective learning and development are produced through the actions and activities of the human beings who are participating in the everyday situations. 28
  6. 6. What is a social pedagogical perspective? The Greek concept pedagogue is a compound of three aspects ‘pais’ — child, ‘agein’ — guidance ‘paidagogos’ (Talerud 1985), and also ‘agogy’—change. The focus in social pedagogical praxis is on the social and emotional side of raising and guiding a child into the socio-political and sociocultural frame of a society. This means that it is necessary to work from both a socialising and re-socialising perspective, and to be conscious of the production and reproduc- tion of meaning in the context where the social pedagogical situa- tions occur. The principle of social pedagogy takes its starting point in Comenius’ didactic (1667) What, how, when and through what means? Comenius’ main focus was on the how aspect (Krogsmark 1989, 21). He believed that both girls and boys should be educated: the girls so that they could educate their own children. It was important, Comenius believed, to work both with the senses and cognitive aspects in raising a child. The child should be guided into the sociocultural community by means of showing and presenting (Chapter 28:4) and later into society (28:8) This entailed learning through doing (26:11) but also learning by following those more experienced adults (26:12). This can be rediscovered in Pestalozzi’s pedagogics and in Dewey’s learning by doing. It can also be seen in Marx’s concep- tualising of praxis (Kroksmark 1989). The human being’s need for guidance, and the fact that perception and apprehension have to be verified by systematic observations leads us to another principle in social pedagogical thinking—to pay attention, see, reflect, under- stand and choose a method of action. The individual in question provides another factor to be taken into consideration, what is his or her life history and how this ‘governs’ his or her way of perceiv- ing, understanding and choosing a course of action. Social pedagogy was developed as a response to the social misery that followed the industrial revolution. Work became labour, and the former work communities were changed. A new conceptuali- sation of what work was occurred. Concepts such as experience, group solidarity and togetherness lost their meaning. Children 29
  7. 7. became part of the labour force; they were no longer guided into the working collective and socialised by a more experienced adult, and thereby missed their citizen education. Poverty, starvation and epidemic diseases were endemic and child mortality rates were high. The next generation of the labour force was in danger. At the same time a feeling of both guilt and fear grew among people with a sense of humanity. Something had to be done! The socialising community had to be re-established, and socio-political reforms and social work with social pedagogy as the pedagogy of distress (Notpedagogik) became the answer to solving social prob- lems. Children were seen as the primary rehabilitation / re-socialis- ing objects. (Pestalozzi in Rusk 1979; Natorp 1899; Makarenko 1977; Konrad in Mertens 1998; Rasmussen 1984; Madsen 1995; Lorenz 1996). Direct social pedagogy was directed towards a re-socialising process in institutional settings while indirectly social pedagogical work aimed at promoting and recapturing people’s ‘own’ culture. This cultural and educational social pedagogical community work took place in the settlements in London, Chicago (Addams 1910; Swedner & Swedner 1995) Stockholm, Oslo and Copenhagen. The word social pedagogy was used in 1851, in the book Weg- weiser zur Bildung für deutsche Lehrer by the German educator and school politician, Friedrich Adolf Diesterweg. He looked upon social pedagogy as an individual pedagogy. Children, he believed, should be ‘helped’ to behave and to become responsible by means of the educational power that was in the milieu. They had to be integrated through commitment, engagement (Verplichtung), train- ing and education. Poverty had to be prevented by socio-political reforms, and the pedagogue had to be conscious of how to draw the line between acting pedagogically and reacting politically against the result of the industrial destitution. He did not see social peda- gogy as a reconstruction of community. Paul Natorp (1899/1974) was also developing the concept of social pedagogy. It was his belief that social pedagogy is aimed at participating in the process of educating people so they get a firm character and can be integrated into the community and the society where they are living. He sees social pedagogy as the core in the 30
  8. 8. socialising process. The new generations have to be guided into the cultural community in which they are participating. Natorp (1974) also stresses that looking upon the concept of socialisation as a case for the individual is an abstraction. Rather human beings are socially formed in an interactive process and gov- erned by social norms both in connection with feelings and the will. We become human by participating in the construction of human culture in the community where we are living. Our understanding, common sense, comprehension and intelligence are formed in the context of where we grow up. Pedagogy must, therefore, be a social pedagogy that takes its starting point where and how the individual is living his/her life in relation to the life of the cultural community in which he/she is participating as a whole, and how he or she is interacting in different forms of communities. From the family, friends, peer group, neighbourhood, to the municipality and the state (Comenius a. a. Hegel a. a. Natorp 1974 p 90– 94). Human beings learn and are educated in participation with others. They learn to act, to see as and to conceptualise by observ- ing and listening to what adults present; their forms of life in the sociocultural context they are living and how they are doing it. They become conscious of what their world represents and how to behave there, but also that there might be different rules in other social contexts. They learn to perceive the meaning of the world of ideas and thoughts through verbal socialisation (Natorp 6th edition 1974). In the post-modern society, they must learn to perceive and behave in different worlds. Social pedagogy as a participatory learning process Klaus Mollenhauer (1996) argues that in the process of the repro- duction of meaning in raising and educating children, we show what is important for us. It is difficult to think of an educational action where the adult, whether consciously or unconsciously, does not tell something about his or her cultural values or forms of language (Wittgenstein 1981). Wittgenstein believes that speaking a language is part of an activity where our words convey meaning through our actions. 31
  9. 9. Mollenhauer stresses that the more complicated the social life is, the more difficult it becomes for the child to get in touch with what is needed for socialisation and education. When the child’s everyday world does not contain what he/she needs for the future or when everyday events in the community have become too complex, basic pedagogical problems become of great significance — how, when and what can the child learn from the immediate experience they gain? Adults have to present both their own forms of life and guide the child into that part of the sociocultural world and history that is outside their nearest field of experience. The adult has to select what is to be told or shown. This is what Mollenhauer calls representation. The socialpeda- gogue has to be aware of what she presents and represents, and what, how, when, and by which means children or young people can learn from their own life biography and experience. How does the cultural store they bring with them correspond to the contextual norms and values of the group in which they are situated and what is necessary for them to learn about from other parts of society? In order to succeed it is necessary to believe that the child or young person can be educated, and that such processes are helped by self- activity (Mollenhauer 1996). Klaus Mollenhauer is referring to the Utopia he found in Pesta- lozzi’s work when he built his community based model on farming and a boarding school. In the morning, the children were educated, and during the afternoon, they took part in the practical work in the house and the garden or they went on excursions to study nature. Pestalozzi’s work was based on a humanitarian, democratic and social dimension. He stressed the need to develop relation- ships through the use of feelings, engagement and involvement. He wanted ‘to warm their hearts and develop their minds, and through self-instruction to elevate in them a sense of inner dignity and worth of their nature’ (Rusk 1979, 139). Mollenhauer believes that when the forms of life no longer pro- vide meaning, then a base for responsible education has to be found in the basic elements. This element is not the abstract construction of an interactional structure between the adult and the child, but a concrete social situation in a household. The household is both 32
  10. 10. built on a personal relationship with regards to what has to be done, and the material problems living in a community brings. The life in a household or a community became one of the cornerstones in milieu therapy as the field of situational learning. Experiences from cultural social pedagogical work have shown the importance of working with young people’s life stories, and also that this must take its starting point from their experience horizon, although of course it does not have to stay there. A learning milieu and a team feeling (Talerud 1995) were created in projects where the young people had to work as a team and make use of their different competences in their participation in the production process. They had to show responsibility and no one person was more important than the other (Talerud 1995). Other projects showed that second- ary control from the pedagogue was diminished. The pedagogical process developed from law and order to love and order (Lihme 1988). Lihme defines social pedagogy as a process in which three parts participate: the child or young person, the pedagogue and what they are doing together. All parts are involved and attention is focused on what they are doing together instead of how the child/ young person is behaving, and both can make use of the opportu- nities created by mutual engagement and commitment. Through this a relationship could be constructed, and not one that had been artificially created (Makarenko 1975; Lihme 1988; Freire 1972). Guided participation According to the activity theory, a human being is what he or she is doing. Our feelings, values and thoughts are developed through our own everyday activities. Vygotsky (1978) sees activities as the princi- pal agents of cognitive development. He believes that we have both goals and motives in our actions. He defines the difference between a child’s developmental level as defined by the type of problem that a child can solve independently and the proximal developmental level problems which the child can solve with an adult or together with a more experienced child at the same age. Vygotsky stresses the importance of experience as a starting point for new adventures (Vygotsky 1978; Vygotsky & Luria 1956 in Bronfenbrenner 1993, p 25). 33
  11. 11. Barbara Rogoff (1993, 122) focuses on the interactive process in learning through problem solving, working both alone or in co- operation, and in activities that are linked to cultural institutions inherited from previous generations, which are transformed to fit current needs and also anticipate future need. She defines the differ- ence between apprenticeship, guided participation and appropria- tion in this way. ‘Where as the metaphor of apprenticeship calls attention to the sociocultural organization of cognitive activity, and guided participation refers to interpersonal interaction and arrange- ments appropriation is the process by which individuals transform their skills and understanding through their participation. Appro- priation occurs in the context of engagement (often with others) in a sociocultural activity, but focuses on the personal processes of transformation that are part of an individual’s participation.’ (Rogoff 1993, 138). Barbara Rogoff also stresses that children’s social interactions and involvement in activities are dynamic and inseparable from the cul- tural context, in which children engage in shared thinking as well as the comparison of ideas with companions in varying levels of skilled relationships, and which also vary in the symmetry of status. These variations in skills and status of partners are likely to be important to the full richness of the understanding of skilled cultural activ- ity that children can develop. She suggests that the apprenticeship model is often applied to systems of practice that are valued by the reader. For example, she argues that ‘Children’s literacy develops through participation in a community of readers and writers, and skill in weaving develops through participation in weaving with more skilled weavers using the tools of weaving in the context of this economic activity. However, the apprenticeship model can also be applied to understanding the development of practices the reader may prefer to prevent, such as learning to participate as a victim, and perpetrator in abusive relationships, or learning to handle life problems through aggression or drugs’ (Rogoff 1993, 149). 34
  12. 12. Contextual didactics in institutional care In 1997–1998, I was supervising a contextual didactic project called ‘freedom in institutional care’. In an earlier study (Fog 1998 a & b), I described the process of developing a learning organisation in the context of a ward in a residential institution for young women taken into care by the local authorities. The article can be read as a narrative description of what it means to a researcher to take part in a participatory action research process. I stressed the importance of focusing on the sociocultural understanding in the organisation. New praxis demands that a focus is placed on the experience of the employees’ life forms, their way of working and from what theoreti- cal perspective they perceive what is happening. This knowledge is used as a starting point for understanding what is going on in the different person-to-person situations, and to question the estab- lished way of working and the working culture. The process of developing ‘Local knowledge’ demands a double competence from the researcher; the gift of being able to handle emotional processes that are prefaced on the creation of trust, and the ability to take part in rational processes of decision-making and planning. The participatory research design gave the young women who had been taken into residential care the possibility of influenc- ing and participating in the shaping of the living areas when the ward was being rebuilt. The consequences were that they felt a sense of responsibility for these areas, and ensured that newcomers to the ward learned how to behave so that ‘nothing happened’. To take part in such dialogic social pedagogical processes requires time. Democracy as a form of life demands time for talking about what is happening, arguing for what is felt to be right and wrong, as well as an openness to accepting criticism and protests. It is a process in which the points of view of others are listened to and considered as a possibility for gaining an understanding of the other’s world. As time went by, the staff managed to discuss openly how they were involved and engaged in the different everyday situ- ations, and also to discuss the conflicts that arose and how they were solved. 35
  13. 13. The staff were very good in one-to-one situations, but they did not observe or interact with the destructive forces in the group, and at times destructive power games emerged. They became conscious of the power that is embedded in close relationships and how to influence the lifestyle of a young woman without colonising and manipulating. To show trust is to surrender and become vulnerable or as K.G. Løgstrup expresses it ‘we are carrying each other’s life in our hands’ (Løgstrup 1986, 32). To show trust means that you do not have to think about whether or not you trust the other person, this happens implicitly. The staff were working from an ecological cycle perspective with animals and plants. This became a learning situation for both the young women and the staff as they were working with the meaning of everyday situations. The young women were part of the project, and also had individual activities together with staff members of dif- ferent ages. Sometimes the question could be asked as to who was guiding whom in the situation in which they participated. From a social pedagogical perspective they were ‘catching’ and using every- day situations as they arose, and sometimes they were ‘surrendering’ to the situation in order to learn more about it (Wolf 1976). The staff were using both their own and the young women’s experiences and resources as a source of strength in order to try to develop and then cross borders for action, development and change. The actions and the interaction between the young people taken into residential care and the staff were inseparable from the situ- ations that appear in the culturally formed institutional context. Now and again it happened that the residential care which was sup- posed to be a socialising (corrective) process became a destructive process where young women were guided by their peers and learnt the ‘tricks of the trade’ of prostitution. They began to develop the identity of a whore in the way they were dressing and their use of makeup, and at the same time they were challenging the staff. When these situations were described in the supervision group, the staff became conscious of their class-specific norms, values and ideals. In their view, what it meant to be well-behaved and ‘become respectable’ (Skeggs 1997) often clashed with the ideals of the young women. The discussions showed the importance of the effects of 36
  14. 14. the social milieu, and how there was a need for openness and an opportunity to discuss these different ideals and the consequences of dressing in this manner. The concept of contextual didactics is concerned with a learning milieu, and its purpose is to create favourable working conditions and activity milieus that result in individual and collective learn- ing where experiences are appropriated (Mattson 1995 in Löfberg and Ohlsson ed., 139). In contextual didactics, learning from the perspective of the learner is seen in terms of constructing some- thing. The contextual world surrounding the individual becomes something that is still changing, and new aspects and possibilities appear. The world is to be appropriated. From this perspective, the world becomes more than the natural environment, it also includes other human beings with their comprehension, understanding, ideas, norms for behaving and values (Löfberg 1990). A key concept developed by James Gibbson (1979) is affordance. The theoretical basis of this concept is gestalt psychology and Gibbson emphasises that the milieu itself invites action (Widinghoff 2000). The project showed that the activity could provide the opportunity to talk, and that time becomes an important factor. Participation in a social pedagogical situation requires time, and must require time. ‘When we are working together in the kitchen, I observe how much noise she is making, slamming the pots and so on, and it shows me how she is feeling, and I try to get her to talk about it. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I have to wait for her to come and talk about it. Actually she has started to do so…’ ‘Sometimes when we go up and visit the lambs it calms her down, and we can talk about what is needed to fulfil our project, we are working on the hen yard, you know…’. Doing something and communicating what and why this is being done in a working situation with a young person taken into residential care provides you with an opportunity to see other sides of his or her capacities, and the active changes that take place during the activity. Adults can gain perspectives on their patterns of action and how they appropriate their experiences. Working in a project with animals also provides the opportunity to talk about existential issues such as life and death. To be the midwife when 37
  15. 15. the lambs are born provides an opportunity to show responsibility in the real world, and also to experience that death can be a part of birth, and that human beings cannot control nature. Slowly it is possible to construct and establish a relationship through the activ- ity. It is a relationship that can involve conflicts, disagreements and confrontations and also sorrow, pain, joy and having fun together. In the later situations the hierarchy in the relationship between the adult and young person can be diminished, and both participants reveal who they are and what they enjoy doing. In Dewey’s words: ‘Experience has to be formulated in order to be communicated. To formulate requires getting outside of it, seeing it as another would see it, considering what points of contact it has with the life of another so it may be got into such form that he can appreciate its meaning’ (Dewey 1916, 6 quoted from Rogoff a.a.). Dewey continues by saying that except in the case of banali- ties or something that is obvious, it is important to make use of imagination and fantasy to incorporate parts of the other’s experi- ences in order to be able, in a sensible way, to tell about one’s own experience. All communication is reminiscent of art. Every social situation affords an opportunity for development to those who are involved. It is when it is founded on a form it loses its vital force. (Dewey 1997, 39– 40). The situation he is describing is a person-to-person, interactive process that leads to change where it becomes important to have a sensitive ear and an eye for non-verbal communication and the meaning of sociocultural, gender-specific experiences. It demands sociocultural competence. Sociocultural competence in a residential institution (Fog 2000) is defined as knowledge about one’s own culture, its concepts and ideas, and about how to read these in relation to those of others (in this case clients, apprentices, young people and colleagues), and how to select and appropriate action on the basis of this knowledge. Sociocultural competence is seen as personal knowledge (Polanyi Michael 1983) with tacit presumptions that function as an active background. Someone who is socioculturally competent pays attention to, and is conscious of his or her reflections in action (Schön 1983; 38
  16. 16. Molander 1993). She or he is influenced by the tacit presumptions that function as the active background imbedded in culture, norms and the value system. He or she sees this in relation to what they have learned through the educational process in which they have participated and in relation to which the culture of the local insti- tutional organisation is of importance. The person who is the bearer of a sociocultural competence takes into consideration what sort of meaning is produced and reproduced in the institutional setting. They must be aware of what patterns they are bringing into the interactional process, and how they influence what is being reacted to, what is seen and what is ignored, and what sorts of action are being taken. It is the art of using everyday situations and experiences in professional work, reacting, embracing and sometimes surrender- ing to the situations as they occur, and making use of them. It is the use of one’s personal knowing and knowledge (Polanyi 1967; 1969; 1983) combined with conscious awareness that the obvious is not always so obvious. Self-knowledge has to be reflected on especially when working with people from other cultures or lifeforms. The theoretical knowledge that governs an individual’s explanations and observations has to be seen as a historical, cultural and contextual construction. When the client-group changes it might be necessary to change perspective. The socioculturally competent socialpedagogue works on the basis of personal knowledge learnt though participation in both his or her culture and the one in which he or she lives and works. She acknowledges how this socioculural institutional understanding and knowledge functions and how the values in life forms and modes of help act as a tacit presumption for her work. It is suggested that some of the old truths in social work should be revised. Know your- self in relation to the other and know your local socio materialistic field. Seeing the possibilities in reality creates new social pedagogic possibilities in institutional settings. I started this paper by stating that very often when describing their work, people who work with milieu therapy talk about treat- ment and not pedagogic work. It seems as if what Mary Theophi- lakis in Behandlernas hus is naming ‘the effect of history on the present’ still dominates milieu therapy. Once pedagogy in residen- 39
  17. 17. tial work was corrective work, often suppressive and humiliating, or it was a form of behaviour correction. The group of clients changed from being maladjusted youths who had had to learn to behave and become respectable, to early disturbed and disorganised children who were difficult to control or, as Redl and Wineman (1952a) expressed it, “children who hate”. These children had to interact in a therapeutic milieu and be treated so that they could rebuild or construct their capital of trust. They had to build or reconstruct their ego-functions and conse- quently psychological theories came into work as a platform for understanding what was going on in their different everyday situ- ations. The ‘how’ was deported into the background and it was as if it was expected if you understood you did not have to think of how to choose a course of action. Rather, it was seen as important to work on developing relationships as a subject to a subject (Buber) and to take part in a communicative process where the power was diminished (Habermas). Earlier authors who had discussed how to create a milieu that did not cause the child or young person who had been taken into care a sociological shock (Redl & Wineman 1952b) were forgotten. This could be, for example, how to work with key situations (Bettelheim 1950) which sometimes require a back-to-basics approach, such as learning to use toilet paper, brushing teeth, taking a shower so people can come close to you physically without feeling disgusted. The milieu has to be a therapeutic instrument and it has to be planned so that it invites further learning. This means that its aims have to be discussed in terms of how, when and through which means. An institution that purports the use of milieu therapy must take into consideration basic principles (such as democracy that demands a dialogue, voluntary participation, responsibility in daily life, experience and the learning situation). My observations showed that the easiest thing to work with was responsibility because it was so easy to see when the young people were irresponsible. Usually, the focus was on the young person and not on the interactive situation between two or more partners. Sometimes it was a question of age as to who was the most respon- sible. However the older participant could resort to the use of force 40
  18. 18. if the younger had forgotten that he or she was part of a hierarchi- cal system or if he or she became too troublesome. Democracy was difficult to practice. It was also difficult to learn to look upon the creative survival strategies that appeared as destructive actions as a resource that had to be transformed. It was as if the meaning of the words democracy and responsibility was diminished to who it was that was going to decide. The dialogic process how a decision could be reached and how to take action as a result of the decision were not taken into consideration. It was difficult to let the young people take part in the planning of the everyday life on the ward. So when planning processes were to take place in the group on the ward it became quite chaotic. The staff had to learn to explain what they meant, why they were saying something, and how they had come to a cer- tain decision. But as time went on the young women took part in forming the rules on the ward, they learned to be the chairwoman of a meeting and they showed responsibility so that decisions were in fact implemented. Therapy is seen as working from a psychological or psychiatric perspective even if the terms used are work therapy and other medical treatments (Hagqvist 2000). Sven Hessle’s term ‘social pedagogical milieus’ might be more appropriate if the key princi- ples from milieu therapy are practised. This involves the creation of a contextual didactic milieu that provides opportunities for learning processes. Here we can utilise Pestalozzi’s household as the field of situational learning and to plan this we need to put Comenius’ pedagogic principles — what, how, when and through what means—into action. Guided participation might be a start- ing point that is followed by planned activities with a purpose and a goal when the final goal is that the young person should become increasingly independent and prepared to live her life outside the institution. The consciousness of the power element in a close relationship is always a truthful follower in the social pedagogical process. It is necessary to work from the knowledge that the rela- tionship is not permanent. The socialpedagogue is just a person in an institution who is acting as a midwife in the process of building a relationship capital and who is also in the process of helping the 41
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