Social Pedagogy

his essay will present a definition and understanding of the European term “Social Pedagogy”, identifying its historical development and some of the concepts and theories
that created its academic and professional identity. It will also identify and analyse the professional characteristics and value base of European social pedagogy and its links to youth work.

The term “Social Pedagogy” has been adopted in Europe and is used to describe a model of practice which concerns the care and upbringing of children and young people.   The term itself has variations in its interpretation. The word “pedagogy” is taken from the Greek word “pedagogue” and was initially used to describe slaves who were concerned with care of the sons of Athenian household, accompanying them when away from home and involved in some teaching. Although there is no equivalent of the term in the English language, pedagogy may be translated as “education”, (Moss & Petrie, 2002, p.139). Unlike European neighbours, the United Kingdom viewed pedagogy in the context of formal education. Pedagogues related to the teaching profession in particular. Pedagogy, in the context of education, gives an impression of formality, an emphasis on structured learning and being led by specialised professionals who are qualified to teach.   Though “pedagogy” may be associated with education, it also has a much broader context which must be considered as part of its concept and development as a model of practice. In Europe pedagogy was adopted as education in a versatile form. Pedagogues were also known as “educateurs” or “animateurs” and were concerned with “the whole of the socialisation process which prepares the child for adult life”, (Jones, 1994, p.2). To experts, “social pedagogy” means “education in the broadest sense of the word”, (Youth Work Now, 2007:1).

Pedagogy, when linked to the word “social”, takes on a less formal tone of education and appears to lean towards the softer skills of development and the...