Innovative thinking is required if the European youth unemployment is to be reduced. More young people need to get an education and both resourceful and vulnerable youth need to prepare themselves for getting an education and employment. But how? Four Nordic education and guidance institutions have an idea: Strengthen the guidance of the young people by using a successful pedagogical approach: consequential pedagogy.
Consequential pedagogy is rooted in existentialism and the idea is that the young person has their social as well as vocational and academic competencies build up in order to become more capable of managing and taking responsibility for their actions. So what is it that consequential pedagogy can offer the guidance of youth and adults?
Guidance on dealing with great personal freedom
Kristian Gert Sørensen, the development consultant at TAMU – Træningsskolens Arbejdsmarkedsuddannelser – says:
”Throughout history, young people have never had as many opportunities to choose from as they do now. But many young people need clear boundaries in order to know what is expected of them and see the meaning of what they are doing. As counsellors, we have to support them in making choices that give their lives direction. Consequential pedagogy can qualify a number of well-known guidance approaches so the student receives a greater educational outcome and is better equipped for getting an education and employment”, Kristian Get Sørensen says.
TAMU, a self-owned institution under the Consolidating Act on Vocational and Educational Training, offers educations for young people between 18 and 30 years who for some reason are outside the labour market. After completing an education in one of TAMU’s nine different majors, the students are ready for a real job and a job is guaranteed as part of the diploma.
Consequential pedagogy has crossed Nordic borders
Consequential pedagogy was originally developed by the Danish pedagogy practitioner Jens Bay (1940-2013) through his almost 40 years as principal of TAMU – a Danish vocational and educational training school. Since then, consequential pedagogy has spread to both Norway and Sweden and now TAMU is working together with three other institutions in the two countries in order to further develop and strengthen the guidance based on consequential pedagogy already practiced by the institutions.
Two of the project partners, VGS Haugaland and VGS Bergeland, are part of the regular education system in Norway. As higher education institutions, they offer both preparation for further studies and vocational youth education for youth between 16 and 19 years. The third partner is Krami Malmö, a department of the nationwide Swedish guidance institution Krami. The institution helps grown men and women over 18 years, who has a history with crime or abuse, get an education and employment.
Differences in pedagogical practices enriches guidance
The four institutions share the fact that they all have great experience practicing consequential pedagogy. Other than that, however, they are completely different and it is exactly this difference that strengthens the development partnership across borders, Kristian Gert Sørensen says.
“The institutions in Norway and Sweden practice guidance that we at TAMU can learn from and vice versa. We each have our strengths and when we explore those differences found in our pedagogical practice, we create the optimal opportunities for our employees to become talented counsellors. Because we learn from each other, we can create a common and dynamic guidance concept better than the ones we each had to begin with”, Kristian Gert Sørensen says.
Where the Swedish counsellors at Krami Malmö are great at working with collective guidance, the Norwegian schools have something special when it comes to vocational and academic guidance. And TAMU offers great experience at individual guidance, he tells.
New book: Counselling of both vulnerable and resourceful youth and adults
The project which wraps up in 2018 has already created a short film and a podcast but the guidance concept has so far not been clearly enough defined, so the four institutions are now changing that. Using concrete examples from guidance practice in the institutions as the starting point, the book shows how consequential pedagogy can strengthen the counsellors in their daily work.
This partnership across borders shows that consequential pedagogy can strengthen the guidance of many different groups of youth and adults: both the groups at the edge of the education system and labour market as well as resourceful groups, Kristian Gert Sørensen tells.
“The four participating institutions are very different and we work with different target groups. However, through the project, it has become clear that our teachers and counsellors are essentially doing a lot of the same things when they counsel and experiencing success when doing it. The experience is that consequential pedagogy can be applied across educational institutions and target groups and therefore, hopefully the book can inspire and be used by many teachers and counsellors wishing to guide youth and adults in how to act professionally and socially”, Kristian Gert Sørensen says.
Social as well as vocational and academic learning need to go hand in hand
Research has shown that social competencies are just as important as vocational and academic competencies when young people are trying to achieve success in their educational and professional life but that fact is often forgotten in the political debate on education, Kristian Gert Sørensen says. As counsellors, it is important to remember and include both, he believes.
“As counsellors we risk fixating on supporting either the students’ vocational and academic competencies or their social competencies. But when we work on developing both their social and vocational and academic learning, they are better equipped to participate in and contribute to the community at the school and in a workplace”, Kristian Gert Sørensen says.
Nordic teachers and counsellors: This is the way forward
After 2.5 years of partnership development, the results are clear to the four partner institutions, Kristian Gert Sørensen says.
“Our employees gain a common pedagogical language on guidance and become more capable. They improve at distinguishing between different forms of guidance and they can support each other and spar on their possible actions as counsellors to a greater extent. This also means that they improve at supporting the students in finding alternative/ appropriate actions. Teachers and counsellors experience professionally development and they agree that consequential pedagogy is the way to go forward”, Kristian Gert Sørensen says.
Showing the way to targeted guidance of the individual
Consequential pedagogy opens up for guidance of youth and adults becoming targeted towards the individual student and taking his or her current situation as a starting point. As an example, Kristian Gert Sørensen tells the story of a young female student at TAMU who started her day in the workshop by checking her phone even though cell phones are not allowed. Instead of just telling her to put the phone away, the teacher used the girl’s action as a starting point and asked why she was using the phone. The explanation was that the girl was homeless and was preoccupied finding a place to sleep.
“When the student has personal and private issues, she needs support tackling them in order to focus on learning. As a counsellor, it is important to listen to the student, ask the right questions and make concrete agreements regarding his or her actions. Giving the student enough space and peace is our great challenge as counsellors, because we want to tell them what to do. But the students need to be able to see themselves in their actions, they need to make their own decisions and we need to respect that”, Kristian Gert Sørensen says.
Facts on the Erasmus+ project:
TAMU – Træningsskolens Arbejdsmarkedsuddannelser – is part of the Danish vocational and educational training (VET) system and is targeted towards youth and adults between 18 and 30 years who due to personal and social challenges have not been able to get on in the regular education system. TAMU has six education centres (in Dragør near Copenhagen, Vordingborg, Odense, Vitskøl by the Liim Fiord, Aarhus and Aalborg) and offers trade-oriented, individually planned, 34-week-long education courses. Education takes place on workplace-like terms within nine different majors: building maintenance, gardening, agriculture, canteen, metal work, cleaning, textile, transportation and wood work. TAMU has 540 students every year and employs 110 people.
Haugaland VGS is a combined upper secondary school in the Norwegian education system and is responsible for the education of youth between 16 and 19 years. The school, placed in Haugesund Municipality on the Norwegian west coast, offers both vocational and general studies programmes. Haugaland VGS also has a department for special needs education, is in charge of prison education in Haugasund and has 800 students and 170 employees.
Bergeland VGS is also a combined school in the Norwegian education system and is responsible for the education of youth between 16 and 19 years. The school, placed in Stavanger on the Norwegian west coast, offers both vocational and general studies programmes. Bergeland VGS also offers special needs education and has 900 students and 165 employees.
Krami Malmö is one of a total of 24 Swedish centres working with guidance of adult job-seekers over 18 years who due to social issues with crime and/ or abuse have trouble finding a job or an education. The Krami centres are a collaboration between the Swedish prison service, the job centres and the municipalities. When Krami Malmö opened in 1980, it did so with inspiration from the Danish consequential pedagogy, and since then, centres have opened all over Sweden, where 85 employees today work with 1,000 people yearly.