‘Does my Haltung look big in this?’: The use of social pedagogical theory for the development of ethical and value-led practice

Author(s): Lowis Charfe, Ali Gardner

Journal: International Journal of Social Pedagogy


The aim of this article is to set out how the use of social pedagogical Haltung can support the exploration of values and how this informs and shapes a practitioner’s direct work. Haltung is a German concept that has no direct English translation but means ‘mindset’, ‘ethos’ or ‘attitude’ (Eichsteller, 2010) and relates to an individual’s value base. Mührel (2008, cited in Eichsteller, 2010) set out that a social pedagogical Haltung is based on the two concepts of empathic understanding and regard. This article argues that the use of a social pedagogical Haltung gives practitioners a philosophical framework to support the reflection of core values and ethics held on a personal level. It also supports an understanding of how these influence practitioners and students when using self in relationship-based practice. The understanding of Haltung is important, but for social pedagogical practice to be undertaken it also has to be demonstrated by actions. The reflective activity of ‘values alive in practice’, set out in this article, provides a tool for social workers, practitioners and students to critically explore their own values and practice and make more meaningful connections between their Haltung and the behaviours they demonstrate in their everyday work. In the United Kingdom, values and standards for social work practice are set out by the British Association of Social Work and Social Work England. Arguably these have, at times, been reduced to a checklist for students and practitioners and can lack more in-depth and explicit links to practice. The analysis of practice is more likely to focus on the skills and abilities of practitioners rather than the value base that underpins these. While the understanding and key application of core knowledge and skills is essential for competent social work practice (Forrester et al., 2019), this article argues that it must also be supported and shaped by ethical principles. It seeks to explore how social workers can be supported to adopt value-led approaches to complex work within an outcome-focused culture


Journal: International Journal of Social Pedagogy

Publication date (Electronic): 31 July 2020

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