Educational social work - New concept of the theory, university study programme and practice in social work

jún 14 2016

Abstract: We present the author´s innovative concept The educational social work, characterizes the social reality of people in the postmodern age which creates a new identity of social work and a new identity of social client. We based on the assumption that the most effective ways and means of social help is lifelong learning and social education of adults. Justifies the inclusion of the educational social work in the system of social work as the science and emphasize the practical necesity of educational social help to adults.
Keywords: Educational social work


The concept of educational social work as an innovative component in the system of social work as a social science, a field of study and social help is a result of our long-time theoretical as well as practical pedagogical work, research and also our firm belief that:

  • spiritual poverty results in material poverty, therefore it is essential for social work to demonstrate its identity as a science, a field of study and practical work also by projecting its social benefit in promoting social self-help of people in order to enhance their social and mental maturity and responsibility for their own life;
  • social work should be an efficient and real (not only proclaimed) support of social health, in other words the support of social communication and social relations enhancing social and mental integration and adaptation of people in their life environment that is both provable and supported by tools available to social work;
  • the primary aim of social work does not consist of treating social problems and social pathology, but it is supposed to be a real not only proclaimed social development program to support cultivating one´s social and individual potential.

The concept of Educational social work is based on a holistic approach in understanding of an individual, the social environment and their mutual dynamic relationship; a systematic approach in understanding one´s development as an individual system within the social environment and educational systems; a humanistic approach in understanding the content and importance of education as a way of social help, guidance to self-help and development of one´s potential. The concept thus represents an intersection of educational and counselling paradigms of social work.

The concept of educational social work expresses:

the reflection of how social work is diversified and subsystems are created. One of them is the subsystem of educational social work. The theoretical and practical anatomy of educational social work is created on basis of the social function of adult education.
The diversification happens as a result of a high variability and multicausality of social events, situation and problems in society.

Educational social work enters the social work system as follows:

  • The theory of educational social work as a subsystem of the social work as a science.
  • Methodology and methodics of educational social work as a subsystem of social work research.
  • Practical activity of educational social activity as a subsystem of the social work practice.

Educational social work is presented by participating on solving social events and problems of people in stages of their: identification, prevention, solution and the assessment of the efficiency of the solution. Educational social work comes in different forms:

  • Preventative educational social work – as a specialized support of primary prevention (social education, awareness)
  • Socializing and re-socializing educational social work – as a professional support of secondary prevention (social education, educational social counselling, sociotherapy).
    Rehabilitation educational social work – as a professional tertiary prevention support
    (social after-care, self-help groups and activities)

The algorithm of the implementation of educational social work: Indication ↔ prevention ↔ suggestions of solution ↔ intervention ↔ assessment of people´s social problems solutions, through targeted activities and within the lifelong social education and lifelong educational social counselling is according to us one of many thought processes used in creating a theoretical background forming a base for the creation of educational programs focused on potential and real clients of social help and social services. From the individual point of view, the content and tolls of social help within the scope of educational social work are related to the fact that people´s life has a social aspect and requires them to adapt constantly through learning. This should be stimulated by educational social programs. The influence of social education (education, instruction, counselling) in social help and social services cannot be ignored as any form of solving material or social need represent an intervention into social and mental adaptation of people as well as the integrity of social client´s personality. The use of educational tools is usually an experiment aimed at correction and change of the client´s personal attitude towards their life situation, social event, social problem. From the social point of view, education is a systematic help to people. Education has also always played a key role in socialization, personalization and enculturation of people.

Educational influence, instruction and counselling strive to achieve spiritual, mental, psychological and social maturity of people, i.e. to achieve an individual level of one´s rational, emotional, value and social competences and maturity.

Author: Prof. PhDr. MÁRIA MACHALOVÁ, PhD.

MACHALOVÁ,MÁRIA. 2013. Preventívna sociálna práca - Edukačná paradigma v sociálnej práci (Preventive social work – Educational paradigm in the social work.) Prešov : Prešovská univerzita, 2013. 272 p. ISBN 978-80-555-0932-7.

MACHALOVÁ,MÁRIA. 2014. Edukačná sociálna práca. (Educational social work.) Prešov: Prešovská univerzita, 2014. 326 p. ISBN 978-80-555-1118-4.

MACHALOVÁ, MÁRIA. 2012, 2013. Preventívna edukačná sociálna práca. – študijný program vysokoškolského štúdia. (Preventive educational social work – university study programme.) Pravoslávna bohoslovecká fakulta, Prešovská univerzita, Prešov.