Term Paper: Applying Just Practice Framework Social

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[. . .] I am reminded of the emphasis on co-learning in Chapter 7, Just Understanding: Teaching-Leraning, in which the most important outcome seems to me to be identifying the information or knowledge needed to inform action (Finn & Jacobson, 2007),. Currently, Ann believes that the school has not adequately assessed Christopher's work-readiness skills or his capacity for learning viable skills that are valued in the labor market. She is concerned that without some intervention, the school will not support the development of an adequate transition plan that will take Christopher successfully from the school environment to the work environment. In addition, Ann is interested in having an external audit conducted at the tenant-support facility to ensure readiness of that environment for Christopher's transition to an independent community-based residence.

Action. Ann has given considerable thought to the transition planning process that occurs at school and that engages the many stakeholders from the school, the work-training environment, and the community. She believes the process is a sterile one, designed primarily to meet the regulatory requirements and to keep the school or transition programs from loosing state funding due to issues of non-compliance. Ann suggests holding a Life Planning Session for Christopher. Based on other such sessions that Ann has heard about -- the university has established a sophisticated process and documentation booklet -- she is convinced that it would be helpful.

I find that I am completely cheered by the way that Ann and I have been able to meld the action and accompaniment dynamics of our collaborative planning, as suggested in Chapter 8, Action and Accompaniment (Finn & Jacobson, 2007). I was concerned that Ann would consider my press for action to be an artifact of the social work frame she has come to know, in which the intervention is the thing that gets attention. Instead, I see that she understands the thrust of critical theory, even if she cannot name it.

Accompaniment. With Ann as a willing and experienced contributor, we brainstorm other ideas. Jokingly, I tell Ann that I would welcome a Life Planning Session with all of my friends and community acquaintances. Ann joins in the laughter, but then gets serious. She thinks the idea is not so far-fetched -- for her, anyway. Ann confesses that she has not spent much time thinking about what her life will be like with Christopher living at home, but she can see the yawning void that faces all empty nesters and is savvy enough to recognize that she needs to be proactive about filling it. We agree to figure out a way to accomplish this without it seeming like another dutiful assignment. My perspective of Ann has changed over the course of these meetings. I can now see the place of strength that she inhabits -- I feel much more respect for her and less sorry for her. Her choices have been deliberate even if self-sacrificing.

Evaluation. In alignment with the notion of catalytic validity introduced in Chapter 9, Evaluating, Reflecting On and Celebrating Our Efforts, we plan to look for evidence that we have, through our efforts, become better at seeing our way clear to social justice-oriented action -- and accomplishing it -- predictably in stages. Ann and I agree to meet quarterly to evaluate the progress of our plans over this transition year. We are eager to test the fit of our plans to what we perceive as Christopher's needs. An important part of our evaluation plan will be the degree of inclusion that Christopher experiences and is able to attain. The institutionalized segregation that Christopher has been subject to over the course of his education has been unwarranted. In his own way, Christopher is social and enjoys being with people -- nothing brings him quite as much pleasure as remembering someone's birthday and then telling what day of the week it fell on when they were born, and if he can sustain their interest, the day of the week of their birthday for every year they have been alive. It is the equivalent, for Christopher, we have decided as asking about someone's family or saying "How about those Oakland As?"

Critical reflection. Solving a puzzle is a dance that moves from the close-up details where the pieces fit together to the big picture on the box lid. It is this way, for me, with the praxis of social work. As long as I am focused on figuring out solutions for someone who needs or wants change in their lives, I may be too focused on those details. Certainly, the details are important and will have a place in the solutions that are chosen, but focusing on them to the exclusion of other dynamics can lead to a myopic perspective. If the social work that I am to practice is to be informed and shaped by consideration of social location and question posing, as Finn and Jacobson (2007) have argued, then it must fold in the experiences of the clients. The meaning, power, history, context, and possibility that are manifest in social justice work must be foundational to the praxis if it is to be corrective to the current models, as Finn and Jacobson (2003) have suggested.

Celebration. Knowing how busy our lives are, we have decided to incorporate a celebration with each evaluation that we plan on a quarterly basis. Since Christopher understand the mechanics of the changes that are about to happen in his life, it is important to Ann that he experiences this period as very positive and joyful. There is also the sense that scheduling the celebrations will give Christopher opportunities to ask questions that he may have and to express concerns. Since the evaluation and celebration process is social and not tied to the school or work environment, it is likely to produce less anxiety in Christopher, therefore, making it easier to broach the subject.

Conclusion

Considering the core processes juxtaposed with the case study has provided a map for ensuring a level of critically reflective analysis. Also, the emphasis on collaborative processes has encouraged a deeper relationship among the stakeholders who are committed to supporting Christopher in his transition. Importantly, the same enthusiasm for engagement appears to be developing with regard to supporting Ann as she adjusts to her son's new challenges and adventures.

References

Finn, J.L. And Jacobson, M. (2003, Winter). Just practice: Steps toward a new social work paradigm. Journal of Social Work Education, 39(1), 57-58.

Finn, J.L. And Jacobson, M. (2007). Just practice:… [END OF PREVIEW]

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