Pedagogy of Social Work Education and Practice-Present Status and Future Strategies (10-11 Feb. 2011) Key Note Address
I thank you very sincerely for giving me an opportunity to share my thoughts, feelings and aspirations with you here under the auspices of Kuvempu University that bears the name of a great KANNADA poet and an humanitarian as also a protagonist of Sarvodaya Philosophy. And, again, it was here that I was given a forum to propose an action programme for social science teachers and students to take up developmental activities throughout the university area covering, then, the three districts, namely, Chikkamagalur, Chitradurga and Shivamogga with the kind moral and intellectual support of the first Vice-Chancellor, Dr.Shanthinatha K. Desai. I am happy to acknowledge the kind co-operation extended to me by Dr.S.A.Bari, the then professor of History and at present the Hon’ble Vice-Chancellor of this University. I am sure professor Bari, now with all the powers he has with him, would take keen interest in supporting the social work department of his university to grow from strength to strength so as to build itself into an instrument of change and development in this region of Karnataka, and be a model to the rest of the state. Besides I ardently desire that he would assist the department in implementing the decisions taken in the light of the discussions held during this workshop.
The Workshop and certain questions
At the outset I have the pleasure to congratulate the organizers of this workshop for having chosen the theme: 'Pedagogy of social work education and practice-present status and future strategy ' as it is most appropriate and timely. I am happy to note that this workshop envisages to cover social work paradigms of the West vis-a-vis the prospect of indigenous model, evaluation of the present curricula, the growth of social work training institutes, examination of the educational component against the practice, and most importantly the social work professional organizations. It is heartening to know that the workshop is focusing on the status of social work situation in Karnataka; it is heartening because I am the one who strongly feel the need for laying greater stress on making those who are undergoing training in social work as also practising social work in Karnataka should be acquainted with the culture and social work situation in Karnataka for enriching their professional self and strengthening the roots of social work in Karnataka. This is, of course, applicable to any linguistic region of Bharath.
Besides, I Congratulate the organizers of the workshop for their foresight in getting together at one place most of the highly experienced academics of social work particularly from Karnataka to participate in the deliberations. This ensures, I am sure, not merely the success of the workshop but also the possibility of building social work profession that too in Karnataka on strong footings. When I ponder over the objectives of the workshop, and before taking discussion on certain crucial areas, a number of questions arise in my mind. I place them for your insightful consideration.
The questions are:
Pedagogy is related, as you know, to all the aspects and dimensions of teaching. It is concerned with imparting Knowledge, Values, Ideas, and esoteric ways to the novice, it is assumed, who has had no acquaintance with new sphere that he/she has entered into. It is, in a way , an edifying process to consider it to be an indoctrination process by not merely acquainting him/her with the dimensions of the new world of knowledge and values, experience and style of living, aspirations and expectations, a range of possibilities of achievement but also of new directions to attain the goals set. The pedagogy is also concerned with the rights and responsibilities the entrant is required not only to be familiar with but also to be ready to imbibe them in full measure and express them in action. . It is the way to build a new and a vibrant personality so as to cope up with the challenges confronted in the world of operation unknown to and not to scuttle the required functioning by the acolyte. The intrinsic aim of the process involved here is to arouse and strengthen conscentization. In other words, it is a process of transforming a person with raw endowment so as to develop in him/her a new world-view, a new perspective and equip him/her with sufficient strength and confidence to face with fortitude and comfort.
The process of imparting successfully whatever I have stated above depends on the kind of rapport established between the teacher and the student. It is assumed that the teacher is fully equipped and perspicacious, and capable of transferring his knowledge and experience to the student with no hesitation, inhibitions and/or reservations, and grow along with the latter so as to overcome his own limitations as well as of his ward. The ultimate goal of pedagogy, according to Bharath’s model (Guru-Sishya Parampara) is to prepare the student to defeat the teacher in the real sense of the term. It is the fulfillment of this goal that is set for pedagogy process. The personalities of both the teacher and the student, as a consequence, become transparent and vibrant, full of mutual trust, concern; and the concern transcends both of them to be glowing souls. At the end they cease to be the teacher and the student; they become equal partners of the common task of sowing goodness in the world. It is appropriate, I consider, to remember what the ancient sages of Bharath have said about the teacher or the Guru:
"Gurur Brahma, Gurur Vishnu,
Gurur devo Maheshwarah,
Gurur Sakshat Parabrahma
Tasmai Shri Guravennamah."
The guru was treated to be par with the trinity of Sanatana / Hindu Dharma, namely Brahma, the creator of the universe. Vishnu, the protector or the maintainer of the universe and Parameshwara, the destroyer of the evil. Further the sages have this to say about the power of such a guru. The connected sloka thus runs.
Tasmai shri gurave nnamah."
The simple meaning of the sloka ‘as: the darkness of ignorance has covered my eyes; I am blinded with this darkness. The guru has given me a spectrum of light to my eyes with which the darkness is driven away. I bow with reservence to such a Guru. The guru has such a power of wisdom with which he can drive away whatever darkness of doubts, ignorance, aberrations, etc,. that the student has. The guru, therefore, is such a person who is gracious enough to lead the student from the darkness of ignorance to the light of wisdom. Such a guru deserves all the reverence and adoration. In the light of what is said above, it is assumed, that the guru is the epitome of the good, the knowledge, the wisdom, the kindness, the mercy, the affection and of the nobility. The student would feel the warmth with which he/she is treated. He/she tends ensconced. Between them there would be no blemish; if any that would be burnt out during the spiritual-intellectual transactions. I wonder whether this model of Guru-Sishya Parampara built during the hoary past of Bharath could be suitably adapted or grafted to the social work pedagogy.
Social work Scenario
Right now we are concerned with the process of training the aspirants to be Professional Social Workers. The process is necessarily to be comprehensive enough to subsume all aspects of training:
All these aspects of training expect the seeker to develop a transformed personality so as to make him/her fully equipped with the capacity to carry on the mission undertaken with a clear vision generated.
I take this opportunity to place before the erudite participants my thoughts on certain areas related to the growth of social work both education and practice components. I take up first for discussion the philosophy and ideology part against the societal background. When we trace the phases/stages of the growth of social work, as per my reading and understanding, there are four stages, namely, 1) Indistinguishable or role reversal; 2) polarization or consolidation of roles; 3) sharpening of the knowledge and skills; and 4) back to the modified original. This does not, however, pertain only to the modern social work but to the social work from the beginning (1*). There is no room here for me to lengthen the narration.
The social work anthropologists and sociologists agree that societal structure exists thanks to its functioning. That means, the functioning structure can only exist and survive. The social work educators and the workers are aware that the abstract form of human society expresses itself in the concrete forms of social person with personality, the human group and the human community. The individuals, the groups, the communities interact through their appropriate institutions and organizations in the light of the values, norms and ideologies and the total cultural ethos resulting in the formation and maintenance of the human society. Therefore, the elements of social work were present even from the very beginning of the societal structure. When Auguste Compte was laying the foundation for the new science of society-i.e., Sociology- he was searching for solutions to the problems cropped up during his period of upheaval (1842). What he found, as a philosopher, were the elements of social work (though not specifically worked in this fashion) that were needed to meet the exigencies.
The modern social work, I assume, was born along with sociology, the modern science of society. As sociology was born during 18-19 century so does modern social work. The modern social work became a new discipline with new ideology and philosophy, methodology and techniques, principles and skills, and identified certain areas for operation. Otherwise social work was in operation along with society, as it was indicated earlier, whatever ideology, values, philosophy, methodology, etc., as per the ethos of that period. Along with other societal activities, social work activities have also undergone appropriate changes.
A hypothesis: Origin and growth of modern social work
Coming to modern social work I have formulated a hypothesis which I place for year reflections. We normally divide the world into three segments, namely, the first, a developed world, the second, socialistic world, and the third, developing world. Modern social work thrived in the western, particularly, American, countries. There social work adopted democracy as its basic philosophy because of its socio - political background. The migrants from the main land wanted to be absolutely free from any control; the individual freedom was the upper most consideration; consequently democracy became the political philosophy and ideology (2*). Social work, therefore, adopted democracy as its basic philosophy which lays stress on the individual; consequently Case Work became the prime or mother methodology. The other methods had to shape themselves under the influence of Case Work. Supposing history decided that social work to grow in the second or the socialist world, and the background was going to be socio-economic, where because of communistic – socialistic atmosphere the commune or the community would have been the important focal point for methodological consideration; case work was definitely going to be pushed back giving place to Community Organization. Imagine the modern social work had taken birth and developed in the third or the oriental world its background was being socio-religion or spiritual as a result of why devotion was going to be the core philosophy , (later during the Gandhian era it took the form of Sarvodaya) the group gaining the center-stage. In the oriental society it was the family and the caste that were the strong systems that dominated the life-style of the people. Even the panchayat was functioning like a group of elites. To summarize, socio-political background breeds democracy leading to individualism and formulating case-work to be prime method of social work; the socio-economic background to communism – socialism, commune becoming the main area of operation and the dominant method being community organization, and the socio-religious/spiritualism to devotion/ Bhakti, the prime place being occupied by group work.
In the light of what is presented above I desire to draw your attention to post-Independent Bharath situation. Because of British rule and American influence our independent country adopted democracy as its political philosophy and national ideology, and because of Russian relationship as also J.Nehru`s leaning towards socialism, Bharath grafted socialism to democracy. That is how and why democratic socialism became the basic philosophical ideology for the nascent nation on which to build a secular welfare state. Therefore, democracy, socialism, secularism and welfarism became the components of the ideology of the new nation.
The philosophy and ideology were accepted with no wryness as these were introduced to us during the freedom struggle. Secularism was assumed to be non-religious, though the Constitution declared it to be not anti-religious and treated all religions as equal. However it was superimposed against the caste system. However, because of deep-rooted religious sentiments, spiritual base, and the realization of the importance of head-count during the elections held the castes started donning the religious garb. (3*)
The British rule brought in radical changes in the political, legal, educational and economic systems. Against this changed background democratic socialistic ideology became a natural political philosophy of the new nation. The modern social work made its entrance during the period of freedom struggle (1936) with democracy as its basic philosophy. But, unfortunately, to borrow Will Durant`s observations of French Revolution and use them to the new nation`s scenario, “the sons of revolution have become sons-in-law of reaction”. Gradually, elections after elections held in independent Bharath, our society became fully politicized, and politics becoming criminalized, unscrupulous people who became the rulers started corrupt practices and became nouveau riche at the cost of well-being of the common masses. As a writer put it bluntly, “Abuse of discretion is the biggest source of corruption. The germ of corruption crept inside the belly of the body politic right after the country gained independence” (4*). As I have observed the society is infested with a large number of viruses generating and nurturing social problems which in turn are eating the very vitals. We can identify these as major viruses, namely, Apathy, Alienation, Selfishness, Demoralization and Imbalance of Rights and Responsibilities (5*). Social work field cannot remain immune to the polluted environment prevailing and expanding.
Therefore, I consider that there is a need for this workshop to seriously reflect on the kind of social work philosophy and ideology as also the methodology of treatment that we need to adopt keeping our culture and tradition in view. I do not feel it to be inappropriate to suggest for experimentally at least, grafting the Bhakthi Yoga on further reflection we can take in sarvodaya as an ideology along with Bhakti Yoga. (See: H.S.Doreswamy, Sarvodaya Mantra, Sapna Book House, Bangalore-2010 as a suitable philosophy for social work in our society (6*). It would suffice to quote an erudite social work educator who steadfastly believed in the strength of the Bhaktas in promoting the total well-being of the humanity. “Bhakti Yoga” she says, “is a process of totally surrendering to the Lord through devotion.Such a state of perfection of being a true Bhakta, calls for bringing of head and heart together through transcendental love. It is believed that love in a dormant state is in every heart. In Bhakti Yoga devotion and love is cultivated as a mode of expression for everything…
“In Bhakti Yoga humans, animals and all other living creatures in fact the entire creation is viewed as Lord`s manifestation. Hence, service to all is sacrifice for the Supreme Cause.
“In Bhakti Yoga there is no room for dislike or envy. Kindness flows in all actions, friendship is for all living entities, self is not thought of as a proprietor, and no false ego is sustained. In happiness and in distress the being is conscious, aware and satisfied. The experience is of being engaged in devotional service with determination.
“Bhakti Yoga is characterized with upasana-an inward act of attainment with the higher principle and completely merging with it. The process begins with faith-Shraddha and continues as perfect faith ever steadfast in worship and totally merged with God”. (7*)
Dr. Gokarna has given a descriptive account and analysis of the Bhaktas all over the country who have exhibited their nobility and guided masses to overcome their limitations and miseries. She has shown how, for example, Bhakti Yoga through the action taken by the Bhaktas (devotees) could bring about the development, we the modern social workers are deeply interested in(8*).
Further, I desire to point out that the latest trend in treatment of mental patients particularly to incorporate the principles of Yoga.
I may be permitted to show how it would benefit the pairs of teacher-student and practitioner-client to get acquainted with the religious philosophy of Bharath that elaborately worked out the `Kosha System’. The internal life of the human being is so thoroughly and systematically studied as to show how the gross body could elevate to the level of blissful conditions. This system is given below:
The teacher of social work, if he can be grounded in this Yougic method he/she would be capable of elevating the student to his level. And the social work practitioner, who has reached the Anandamaya level would be great influence on the client or the one whom he/she is helping. He/she becomes a realized soul like Bhakta I have referred to while quoting Dr.Gokarna. I hasten to add that this, however, does not mean the teacher or the practitioner need to renounce the worldly life. For example, the Karnataka Shiva Sharanas and the Haribhaktas did not renounce the worldly life. They have shown the way of light by their exemplary style of living.
Strengthening Group work
Besides modifying ideology there is a need to concentrate on strengthening group work. It would help in finding ways to strengthen people to make their group more satisfying, meaningful and develop their group into an agent of change and development. Because of unhealthy changes people are engaged in competition, that too cut-throat competition instead of cooperating with each other; hating instead of loving; cultivating selfishness instead of altruism; despising other group member`s contribution instead of appreciating and encouraging. This kind of feelings and behaviuor is found in almost all group living. Even the family that has tested-base for centuries is experiencing cracks, and the bonds between the members are becoming weaker leading to breakdown. Consequently marital conflict, indiscipline among the youngsters, neglect of the elderly and the handicapped, etc., are on the increase. Centrifugal forces are gaining upper hand leading to desperateness. Social work intervention has become an urgency even in the tradition-bound society like Bharath. Therefore, concerted efforts need to be made in equipping the social workers with the knowledge, techniques and skills in helping small groups including family and kin-groups. Even the caste groups can be helped to overcome their prejudices against other castes and preventing them from cultivating feelings of casteism. Social workers can witness ineptitude among the co-workers in formal settings resulting in disorganization. Group morale is found totally absent in such situations. Group work becomes a must to deal with such situations. I need not go on giving illustrations to highlight the importance of group work. It would suffice to state that the oriental cultural ethos facilitates for practising group work than case work.
Organizing social workers
Our country is great in several respects. It is great in size, in population, in history, in culture, in literature, in contribution to the world of philosophy. But unfortunately it has failed in building strong organizations with discipline and commitments. The professional social workers are either not organized or badly organized. Even those national level organizations have become defunct. Though they have realized the need for strong organizations at various levels they have not been making genuine efforts in building them.
May I take this opportunity to appeal to take up the matter seriously and start organization of teachers, and of students, and of practitioners. I have been pleading to organize social work educators for more than two decades under KASWE (Karnataka Association of Social Work Education). I am appending 10* to this speech my address delivered at Mangalore some time back. Kindly give some time to deliberate on this issue as the workshop is interested in discussing the issue of organization.
Social Work in Karnataka
In the beginning itself I congratulated the organizers of this workshop for including an item to discuss Karnataka case. I feel that it is a must for anyone who inhabits here as one should know its language, its culture, its social problems, its social work situation, particularly those who are engaged in social work profession for several reasons. Karnataka is a unique culture that exhibits all the important elements of Bharatiya life and living; it is here that several experiments have been going on; it was here daring social reform movements had taken place; it was here that Ramanuja who fled from Tamil region in the 9-10 century realized his dream of cultivating socio-religious reforms; it was here that Sharana revolution took place in the 12th century; it was here Bhakti movement was further strengthened by Haridasas; it was here backward less movement gained prominence during the 20th century; it was here educational and social welfare activities were promoted by the state (particularly erstwhile Mysore state) and religious organizations; it is found that all over the state schools of social work in large number are engaged in training hundreds of social workers; it is again here voluntary sector in the welfare field is very active. Over and above Karnataka is known for its religious tolerance and harmony. It is, therefore, a special interest must be shown by the schools of social work in studying social work situation in Karnataka.
Social Policy Formulation
Social workers, not only in Karnataka, but also in all the states are least interested in participating in the formulation of public (social policy, and present it to the stated) Central Governments for consideration and implementation. Therefore, I urge you to take up the issue for discussion of formulating welfare policies by the social workers through their organisations.
I express at the end, my sincere thanks to every one of you for having given me an opportunity to say what I desired to say.
Professor of Social Work (Rtd.)
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