BA in Social Pedagogy
an inteview with Tillman Eisenberg
Why did you decide to study in Newton Dee?
The opportunity to gain a deeper insight and understanding of what makes our life here in Newton Dee so special for all its members appealed to me. In addition I am very excited to be part of this experiment of learning and living in Newton Dee while studying the new course of Social Pedagogy at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen.
How would you explain Social Pedagogy in a few words?
Social Pedagogy, with its relationship - based practice, is often described as the connecting element between all the professions revolving around social care. The direct contact with the people the profession of social pedagogy works with, enables person - centred practice based on the needs of the individuals as well as inclusive approaches to care and therapy in the community often referred to as ‘Social Capital’. Social Pedagogy has an emphasis on life long learning. It encourages us to take every challenge as a creative learning opportunity for our personal development across the life span. The idea of ‘Head, Heart and Hands’ highlights how positive experiences on emotional, intellectual, psychological and physical levels can holistically build ‘Resilience’, a very interesting concept by the way.
How do your studies work?
The University delivers the theory and Newton Dee’s everyday life adds the practice experience. And vice versa, the examples of my life in our community bring the theoretical learning alive and help me grasp the complex concepts across the fields of sociology, psychology, social work and care as well as human rights and welfare politics. Three times a year me and my fellow students go into University for three days of lectures. These three days are very intense but also very inspiring. Besides the time in University, all the Camphill - based students come together once a month for guided discussion rounds and exchange knowledge. One day a week is dedicated to studying. During this day I have time to process all the learning materials, reflect on my experiences in practice and write my assignments.
Weekly I meet with my mentor Vibeke, during these meeting we keep track of my learning progress. Writing and discussing learning journals regularly helps to gather and document evidence of the good practice that is in place already or discover areas of improvement that require creative action towards a positive change. So-called ‘Common Third Activities’ are a great way of implementing theoretical frameworks and making a difference, in reality by carrying out a project together. We in Cassiopeia, for example, made a gingerbread house in the shape of our own house. This project not only allowed the participants to work towards the outcome of the project but also practice team-working skills and social interaction which bond and strengthen interpersonal relationships. The numerous projects and journals are a perfect preparation for the two placements included in the curriculum of the three-year course.
What is it like to fit in studying with your busy Newton Dee life?
The course is classified as part-time self-directed online based studies; it requires a lot of self discipline for one day a week to study effectively, on one hand. On the other hand I am flexible and can fit it around the life in Newton Dee as long as I can meet the deadlines on time. As mentioned above, the cycle of theory and practice works hand in hand with Newton Dee’s set up as a therapeutic community and its learning facilities such as the library, other courses and an amazing support network. Even in stressful situations I could rely on my support network of Vibeke as my mentor and house co-ordinator, Clara the workshop supervisor in the Bakery, and Jonas my supervisor on demand.
What do you like best about being a student here?
It feels like I visit the classroom everyday by taking part in our life-sharing community life together with all of you and all your contributions towards my personal development. As much as I enjoy realising my personal potential, it is the creative interaction with the community, be it during play performances or our adventurous every day, life that motivates me to keep going with my studies so I can support everybody else’s wellbeing .around me. It was also good fun to document in a multimedia portfolio how we as asocial pedagogues nurture the sense of community and encourage people with special needs to create their own identity as citizens in our society. These creative and empowering aspects of the studies make it worth being the guinea pig of this course and the increasing importance of Social Pedagogy in Great Britain in general.