Taking the next step – service users and the training of social work students

Summary

Many new ideas about the proper way to educate social workers have been introduced over the recent decades, not only by the profession itself and the social work research but also by employers and educational institutions.

In this article we argue that it is time to leave the competency model of social work behind (i.e., feed the student with as much knowledge as possible). Instead we would call for an advanced training of professionals based on critical reflection and the sharing of everyday life with social work clients, the people with whom students will interact in their professional futures.

This article focuses on discourses and problems within social work as a profession and as an academic field of study. We concentrate upon initiatives currently being taken to put user involvement into the curriculum for the education of social workers. We specifically report from an experimental course in Sweden and argue that this kind of course has certain advantages, although it may represent a challenge to the traditional academic foundation of social work education.

We concentrate on the pedagogy of our example and also put forward what these changes in educational focus imply for the future of social work education.

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