Working with young people: Roles and responsibilities
Working with young people: Roles and responsibilities

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Working with young people: Roles and responsibilities

1.7 Understanding Roles

Activity 3: Understanding roles

0 hours 30 minutes

Look back at the philosophical positions on work with young people described above and answer these questions:

  1. Which of these fits most closely with your own philosophy on working with young people?

  2. If you are currently working with young people, which of these philosophies fits most closely with the way you work at present?

Alternatively, you might want to look at the workers at Factory, Madcap, or Cowbridge (in the previous clips) and match them with the philosophical positions.

Discussion

Comment

Whether we are aware of it or not, roles are not value free. The interventions we make in our work with young people cannot be understood only by the actions we take. These need to be understood in relation to an overall philosophy of what we are trying to achieve. In some cases the roles we take will be influenced by factors which are beyond our own personal values. Organisations have their own priorities and philosophies, as does the government. The roles we play are shaped not only by our own skills, judgements and philosophies, but also by the wider context in which we work. These external factors can create real tensions for practitioners as they try to work within their own values whilst carrying out the tasks for which they and their organisation are funded.

In this activity we asked you to match philosophical positions with examples of practice. In fact it is unlikely that you will find any exact fits, since most practice is a mix of several underlying philosophies. It is also common to find different practitioners within one project who take differing stances towards their work.

So far, we have been looking at how practitioners think about the roles they play in their work with young people. In Activity 4 we ask you to turn again to the clips and listen to what the young people involved in the Madcap and Factory projects have to say about the practitioners who work with them.

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Transcript: Madcap - Jackie

Text: Jackie’s first contact with Steve was when she came for a course called “School’s Out”.

JACKIE
[00.06] Well the music teachers at school don’t really help out much. They’re there but they’re not helping you with your vocal … they’re not a vocal coach as well whereas Steve does do that as well, he like helps out if you go wrong, and he’s a really good teacher.

Text: She enjoyed Madcap so much that she’s now back on work experience.

JACKIE
[00.26] They’ve all been a great help, they’ve all helped me out with everything they could and I feel a lot better for it.

Text: She’s just started working with Steve on a song linked to one of her closest friends.

STEVE & JACKIE (SING)
[00.33] ‘please catch me now. My soul has turned again..’
JACKIE
[00.44] My mate had been through a lot when she was younger and to now when she’s like 14, nearly 15 so I got her to write most of it down as a song so we kind of changed it to a song and to really make it effective and to get her emotions out so she didn’t like cause any trouble in her mind or anything, just to help her a bit.

Text: Jackie believes the main beneficiary will be her friend.

JACKIE
[01.12] I kind of see my part in it as um trying to help her overcome this sort of aspect of not being able to get her emotions out and to really build it up a bit and make it effective as a song and get her emotions out that way.
STEVE
[01.30] It’s very very close now……you’ve got it
STEVE & JACKIE (sing)
[01. 33) ‘my soul has turned again’

Text: But Jackie benefits too. The result: a song that will hopefully speak for itself.

JACKIE
[01.37] They help me out and if Ifeel good about myself it’s going to end up being a good result hopefully.
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Text: 18 year old James has been through difficult times. His involvement with Madcap has given him a more positive outlook on life.
JAMES
[00.07] I’m a lot more confident than I was. I mean, it’s easier for me to talk to people and like get involved in things like so I am not always at home like doing nothing.

Text: It’s a year since he was referred to Madcap by his Connexions adviser

JACKIE (sings)
[00.15] ‘..my spirits high. What do they expect me to do’
JAMES
[00.22] It’s a really good atmosphere, you know you can have fun for, um well for free. It’s just like yeah a very good atmosphere, you can record your songs and you go home at the end of the day, you know, and you’re like, it make you feel good about yourself.

Text: Madcap provides opportunities for James to develop his musical talent

JAMES
[00.43] I’ve got two music videos to show for it, um a song, no two songs actually –two new songs. Um, I’ve got a couple of photographs from a gig we did um a couple of weeks ago here at Madcap which Steve organised. Text: James also helps out as a session musician for other young people at Madcap.
JACKIE(sings)
[00.57] ‘..so turn again’
STEVE
Alright, ok you’ve given me what I need
JAMES
[01.02] Yeah, I would like to get more involved in like session musicianing,like going doing to the studio and like helping other people out with like their like songs and stuff because it’s really fun you know and its good to know you’ve helped someone else I suppose as well.

Text: James’ relationship with the project’s central worker, Steve, is a crucial part of his experience of Madcap

JAMES
[01.22] Steve’s really cool because he like helps you and if you stuck on anything he’ll always be there to try and like make sure you are doing the right thing and not going wrong and stuff. He’s er very good at talking to people and getting his point across. So he is um very clear in what he says and stuff and you can always understand what he’s talking about.

Text: Listening is an important skill for someone working with young people

JAMES
[01.45] He can be a good listener sometimes when he’s busy though you can’t sometimes get a word in because he’s always running about, so I think he’s a good enough listener.

Text: Madcap’s flexible approach has engaged with James to an extent that formal education could not.

JAMES
[01.59] When you’re doing music here you know you’re actually getting to do what you want to do and you are not you’re not getting the teacher saying no, you can’t do that, you can’t do this, he lets you do anything you want, like really creative ideas. ‘Cos I’ve come in and made a music video and like it’s a really, really strange like song and stuff, it’s not er nothing like you’d hear in the charts or anything. He is happy with anything you want to do, that’s the cool thing about Steve.

Text: Madcap’s atmosphere encourages informal learning.

JAMES
[02.28] They treat you like they treat anyone else, they make you feel comfortable basically and like you settle in and you’re like, this is like a cool place to be. You don’t realise you’re learning but when you go home you realise that I’ve learnt something so it’s cool.
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Text: 19-yr-old Callier was introduced to Madcap by James.

CALLIER
[00.05] It’s a nice happy friendly area where you can come where everyone is nice and smiling, you feel really welcome when you come here definitely.

Text: Like many young people, Callier had previously felt a lack of motivation.

CALLIER
[00.19] It’s motivation that can be lacking I think. It’s like, like what has happened here, it’s like, here you go, and it’s like your motivation then gets kicked off a bit whereas if nothing is really around, you haven’t heard much, no one’s come up to you, you keep a bit quiet but you need to go out there and actually find it yourself as well. You get more confidence so you can actually go out there after to get stuff
CALLIER
[00.40] It’s very old. Probably as old as my dad.

Text: The cost of a similarly equipped commercial recording studio would have been prohibitive.

CALLIER
[00.45] It’s nice being in the studio, getting to use all the different equipment, learning about the set up and also personally, we play together better now, and we’ve got a live gig and everything like that out of it so we’ve really come together more than we were before playing in the bedroom!

Text: Working with Steve has proved very different to Callier’s experiences at school.

STEVE
[01.03] Basically right, as I see it we’ve got the amp for the track almost finished yeah
CALLIER
[01.07] Oh I’ve loved it, Steve’s hilarious, he just brings you together. He brings out the best in you as well, builds you up and makes you play to the best of your abilities I think, definitely. I’ve learnt a lot.
CALLIER
[01.18] Teachers don’t really understand that's what you want most of the time whereas normally what they give you is like you have to do this, you have to do it along these lines whereas here is it what have you got, I like that, let’s keep that, let’s do this, you just need to change this a bit. You know, just a bit of creative influence into what you have already got I think, definitely.

Text: So what effect has his involvement with Madcap had on on Callier and his self-esteem?

CALLIER
[01.14] Well um I think more really it gives us, the more you can do it if you put your mind to it , you can actually go out there you can do it, there’s nothing holding you back, if you get the time you can actually go out and get yourself a CD, you know you can play some live music, get together as a group, it’s pretty good actually, definitely.
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Text: Dan would recommend Madcap to any young person with musical interests.

DAN
[00.06] Go for it, like definitely if you’ve got an interest in music at all because like, if you want to take it like not just take it further for yourself or for other people then definitely, it is like one of the most constructive environments in Milton Keynes to like come and make music and make your dreams and stuff, or whatever.

Text: Dan has been coming, with the rest of the band, for several months.

DAN
[00.30] Today just finishing off a song we’ve had written for a while, just like getting the finishing touches because like obviously we have to sort outthe levels and stuff, all the technical side.

Text: Working with Gawaine and Steve has helped him develop his artistic talent and technical skill.

DAN
[00.46] Just adding in a few last minute changes, and like a bit more guitar, a bit more drums and like ideas we’ve had at the last minute and stuff, just getting them all together because this is one of our last sessions so yeah just bringing it all together now it’s like a whole.

Text: A major part of the attraction for Dan is the creative teamwork.

DAN
[01.04] I think since coming here, I’ve like you know, especially playing live ‘cos we made a song here and we got to play it like a showcase of Madcap, like all the people had been doing, especially lacked experience, cos all my mates beneficial because I got a lot more confidence playing live.

Text: He’s discovered the motivation and discipline that performance demands

DAN
[01.22] I’d never done it before and it gave me a good idea of what I was working towards, the live playing of gigs and all that is something I’ve dreamed of doing so that dream’s like been fulfilled, the first step to getting further with it as well, it has given me the hunger to get out and do more, like make more music, come here and we will do more live stuff so.
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Activity 4: Listening to young people

0 hours 30 minutes

Listen to what Callier, Jackie, James and Dan say about working with Steve in the Madcap project.

Under Factory, listen to what Kawsar and Paul say about working with Andrew (see Factory clips 2 and 3).

Make a note of the roles which these young people identify, and what they say about them.

Discussion

Comment

Here we describe only a few of the roles the young people identify as helpful to them.

At Madcap, Callier, Jackie and James all see Steve as a facilitator. According to Callier, Steve is someone who ‘brings out the best’ in you. When encouraged to compare Steve to her teachers, Jackie talks about the quality of the personal attention she gets. James comments that Steve is ‘good at talking and getting his point across’ and also ‘a good listener’. He values the freedom he is given to make the music that interests him: ‘he's happy with anything you want to do, so that's the cool thing about Steve’.

At The Factory, Kawsar and Paul have a lot of respect for Andrew. They feel understood and listened to. Kawsar says, for example, that Andrew ‘knows how we are and right he understands like culture wise’. Paul values the guidance Andrew has given him: ‘he listens to you no matter what the problem is … it's nice to feel he has time time for you’. He sees Andrew as an ally and a mentor who has helped to ‘put me on the rails’.

Whatever struck you from these interviews, it is clear that listening to young people's views is a rich source for reflection on roles. If you are currently working with young people, you may want to discuss with them their experiences and expectations of you and your colleagues.

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