What do we see when we look in the mirror? A critical reflection on the missing role of the social worker as an educator in everyday practice.


  • Sarah Fraser Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology


Social Workers, critical reflection


Critical reflection on the roles and tasks of social workers is undertaken continually as part of the process of defining and redefining the profession's mission and purpose. As part of this ongoing process a number of internationally significant reports examining the future shape and direction of social work have been released in recent years. None of these reports include a specific role for social workers as educators in the context of every day direct client work across a wide range of fields of practice. It is argued that the educator role in social work is fundamental to achieving the profession's goals of empowerment, social justice and anti oppressive practice. However until this role is given the recognition it deserves, the theory, practice knowledge and skills required to carry it out successfully will not be given the weight they deserve in social work curricula both in Aotearoa New Zealand and on the international stage. A New Zealand wide research project is planned for 2011 to further explore the argument developed in this article that the essential role of the social worker as educator in every day practice requires a fresh appraisal and due recognition in curricula and standards of best practice.


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