KCL lecturer and researcher Dr Tania de St Croix and Colin Brent, a senior youth worker from Ealing Council, recently visited Japan to conduct workshops with youth workers, researchers, students and local government administrators in Sapporo, Tokyo and Kyoto.
They shared their experiences and perspectives of youth work in the UK, as well as discussing their work as part of In Defence of Youth Work, which aims to defend critical emancipatory youth work in the English context and build international solidarity amongst youth workers.
Of the trip, Tania said:
'It was incredibly inspiring to see the emergence of a strong (even if small) youth work sector in Japan, and to discuss our shared critical approaches to youth work in our different contexts. I learned so much about youth work in different contexts, and about the value of researchers working in genuine collaboration with practitioners locally and internationally'.
Tania and Colin were invited by Maki Hiratsuka, a Professor at Hosei University in Tokyo, and her research collaborators who are researching youth work in Europe in order to develop the practice of youth work in Japan. They are particularly interested in 'youth work stories' - as part of In Defence of Youth Work, Tania and Colin (along with others) have developed storytelling workshops that enable youth workers to evaluate and reflect on their work in all its complexity. This relates to the research Tania is doing with Louise Doherty, which argues that evaluation of youth work needs to take into account its social context, and be developed in democratic and practice-relevant ways.
The Japanese youth workers and researchers have adapted the storytelling method into what they call a 'counter documentation movement' and published an e-journal 'How do we organise youth work?' where they include Japanese youth work stories in order to progress the development of youth work and youth workers in the Japanese context.
Find out more about Story-telling in Youth Work by visiting the website.
I hope that all of us - from speakers to workshop attendees - will be newly inspired to develop, support and share stories of grassroots youth work practice for professional development, evaluation and public awareness.– Tania de St Croix