I have an hour at York station waiting for my connection back to Hartlepool on my way back from the youthwork and faith day at Bradford university hosted by youth and policy with some input from the In Defence of youthwork and other practitioners in the variety of fields of youthwork across many faith positions.
In this hour and the time it takes me to get back to Hartlepool, I hope to reflect on the day and pose a number of questions for further thought which might be of use. We ended the day wondering about shared commonalities across youthwork that transcended or encapsulates all faith positions.
From the day there seemed be a number of these;
Values of youthwork- that is critical and pedagogical (cf Cockburn/Wallace 2010)
Youthwork that has young adults as the primary client (cf Sercombe 2010)
Human values and ideal motivations for action, such as love (as a verb), peace, justice, kindness, goodness, ( – these might be espoused within many faiths also)
Understandings of moments in human story that shape personal narrative; birth, tragedy, celebration, identity
Young people and ourselves in social context , community context and political context
Youthwork is about a relationship of trust, respect, integrity and authenticity.
I wonder also that if the texts of religions can act as separations, what of the commentators of these texts, the philosophers, theologians, sociologists and psychologists, can these be withheld as common ground and be shared languages? so Gadamer, Ricouer and Foucoult for example.
Would the writings and practice of others with faiths/ non be also common ground, from Franciscan monks, scientists, anthropologists and social geographers for example.
My wish would be, and I’ve written about this here, is that themes of liberation would also be common. And it would be for those whose youthwork understanding, and also faith understanding is based upon the educational thinking of Friere and further theological practice subsequently in Boff , Gutierrez and others in the pursuit of liberation theology. This could be more shared and it would be good that a Western Christian faith-based youthwork had developed with more transformational, liberative ethic and practice than it has.
However, back to shared and commonalities, from the philosophy and approaches what about practice; A continual respect for and desire to reflect and further depending of reflection in and on practice.
That young peoples voices, as well as those who represent their interests should be heard
That no one should be viewed through socio and economic lenses , their economic capability.
That institutions, such as the church, chapels, mosques, school and governments can hinder and hold power that controls divides and inhibits young people.
That Art, dance, drama, music, theatre, film and creativity are political, subversive are contingents of a present improvisation and usher in a potential reality in the now.
The propensity that doubt, questioning and critique are healthy positions inside and outside of faith, for curiosity to be encouraged. Does certainty promote exclusiveness and an unreal position of any ideology anyway? ( nb, even Christians are encouraged to look through a glass darkly 1 Cor 13)
There were and are more, but these were the things I’ve reflected on and remembered from today. It was helpful today to consider the range of spaces within faiths, from agnostic to adherent, and each of the faiths has it’s more closed, more open, fundamental, institutional, conservative, moderate , liberal positions, which if I’m honest this possibly wasn’t considered in the conversations today , but it probably wasn’t going to.
Just a thought, and the painting of the position of faith youthwork from the position of non faith seemed a little assumptive. Yet maybe this proves that there is ground still yet to cover. Ground from which longer held operative views have yet to disintegrate beyond.
Questions that i have (added a day later) are: what would be the process, and validity of the conversation & dialogue that was the deemed requirement for the next step? whose voices are heard – and who contributes?
I am aware that Nigel pimlott talks about most of these commonalities in his PhD anyway… Anyway, I’m nearly back in Hartlepool. Your thoughts as ever are welcome…