Principles of Social Pedagogy

Social pedagogy is based on humanistic values stressing human dignity, mutual respect, trust, unconditional appreciation, and equality, to mention but a few. It is underpinned by a fundamental concept of children, young people and adults as equal human beings with rich and extraordinary potential and considers them competent, resourceful and active agents.

Overall, social pedagogy aims to achieve:

  • Holistic education – education of head (cognitive knowledge), heart (emotional and spiritual learning), and hands (practical and physical skills)‏;
  • Holistic well-being – strengthening health-sustaining factors and providing support for people to enjoy a long-lasting feeling of happiness;
  • To enable children, young people as well as adults to empower themselves and be self-responsible persons who take responsibility for their society;
  • To promote human welfare and prevent or ease social problems

The nine principles underpinning Social Pedagogy are*:

  • A focus on the child as a whole person, and support for the child’s overall development;
  • The practitioner seeing herself/himself as a person, in relationship with the child or young person;
  • Children and staff are seen as inhabiting the same life space, not as existing in separate hierarchical domains;
  • As professionals, pedagogues are encouraged constantly to reflect on their practice and to apply both theoretical understandings and self-knowledge to the sometimes challenging demands with which they are confronted;
  • Pedagogues are also practical, so their training prepares them to share in many aspects of children’s daily lives and activities;
  • Children’s associative life is seen as an important resource: workers should foster and make use of the group;
  • Pedagogy builds on an understanding of children’s rights that is not limited to procedural matters or legislated requirements;
  • There is an emphasis on team work and on valuing the contribution of others in ‘bringing up’ children: other professionals, members of the local community and, especially, parents;
  • The centrality of relationship and, allied to this, the importance of listening and communicating.

*From Petrie, P., Boddy, J., Cameron, C., Wigfall, V. & Simon, A. (2006). Working  with Children in Care – European Perspectives. Maidenhead: Open University Press.