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Social Work Field Education

After our first session, once your group has established their Google doc, it’s time to complete the following:

Pls arrange your first group meeting when all members can attend. At this meeting, please consider your own life & development in your country of origin, in your own family & in your community. Pls reflect on your socialisation growing up in this context as a girl becoming a woman & as a boy becoming a man.

Pls think about the values, beliefs, assumptions & cultural norms that perhaps till now you have never questioned or considered.

I’m providing below some prompts or questions for you to consider. You don’t necessarily need to address each of these, they are suggestions only, you can add others too.

Pls share these thoughts & reflections with each other.

Consider the similarities and differences among group members.

Pls also write about this in your journal. Then, whatever you feel comfortable sharing in the Google doc, pls do so.

Some questions to consider:

How did your culture view girls & women?

How did your culture view boys & men?

What role / status did your gender have in your country of origin, in your community & society?

Did you ever reflect or question these previously?

How has your religion, faith or culture determined your own development and decisions?

What messages did you receive growing up about women / men?

What messages dd you receive about your own power & future as this gender?

How have these messages, beliefs, values, assumptions, roles etc informed who you have become as an adult now?

How loud are they ie: how pronounced & impacting are they in your development?

Pls allow time for each group member to discuss & share these questions and considerations with group members.

Once you have all considered, discussed and shared these ideas above, pls then, consider these further questions.

Reflecting on your responses to the above considerations, ie: your own cultural values, beliefs, assumptions etc about your roles, gender, culture, & its impact in becoming who you are, how do these ideas compare to Australian society?

Do you feel that the ideas and beliefs you held were consistent in our society here?

When you settled here & began noticing these aspects, which were similar, and which were different? If they were different, how are they different?

Has it felt challenging to adjust to our society with your own values / beliefs etc?

Were there significant cultural differences that were apparent to you when you arrived and settled here? What were these?

Pls start thinking about 2 personal goals & 2 professional goals. These do not need to be big & impressive, nor do they need to sound sophisticated. Pls consider and think about what you’d like to achieve this placement, for instance; past students selected personal goals such as; learning to be assertive or feeling more confident expressing myself in this group or starting to talk with my partner about some of the ideas about equality. Some of their professional goals were; learning to be reflective & really understand what this is or genuinely understanding theory & how it applies or learning to speak in professional language etc

Pls read & review the examples of Social Workers personal & professional practice framework documents attached to this email.

In your journal, pls start considering some of your own values, principles, beliefs that are and will continue to be significant components of your practice framework. This is something you will continue to develop throughout this placement, through your degree, and will continue to evolve as you gain experience.

Understanding critical reflection;

A fundamental part of Social Work practice is the necessity and our ability to be critically reflective.

Critical reflection is a topic we will continue to explore and discuss. The objective in doing so, is that each student develops specific knowledge and skills to feel comfortable and confident in becoming critically reflective practitioners.

What does this mean?

How do each of you understand the term – critical reflection?

This is not a task which you need to address by doing academic research. This is a task you are required to discuss and explore together informally. Can you pls add your own thoughts and ideas about critical reflection in the google doc.

What steps and thoughts do you need to take when, as a person and professional, you are wanting to be critically reflective? How do you begin this practice? Pls share your thoughts in the google doc.

If any of you have questions about this resource / task list or any of the discussions had in our first session, pls document these in our google doc and seek the support and responses from peer group members and / or your support team (Nicky, Shannon, Belinda & Bonny).

Solution:

Task 1: Girl Becoming a Woman

As a girl born and brought up in the rural area of (mention the state), I observed the cultural and social values to be quite different for the boys and girls. As a pre-context, I have always been an avid traveller with a deep interest in exploring the local rituals and lifestyle of different areas of India. But, my elders and for that matter my grandparents, have not been entirely comfortable with me going out with my friends to explore different places. I have always been asked as to why I don’t sit at home just like other girls. Often times, I have questioned this argument and such illogical stereotypes for girls. The only answer I get is that it is being taught in our culture that girls should be humble, shy, should not talk to multiple boys and should majorly stay at home. All of these are the rules which I do not follow and hence always get called as a brat. In my culture, although being rich in heritage, but women and girls are viewed as individuals who have certain duties to perform like getting married, being able to have children and always be behind a man. The famous quote “There is always a woman behind a successful man”. No one has ever questioned why a woman is always behind a man and not with him, equally.

Whenever I raise such concerns, people in my society call me someone who always has the flag of feminism in her hands, which I find quite ridiculous. In multiple neighboring families in my hometown back in India, daughters and daughter-in-laws have been successful in providing for their family. People always appreciate them in a way that they are the second son of the house. This again is never questioned that a woman if successful is compared to being a second man, but a man once successful is never called the second daughter of the house. In my community, the gender of a woman is always considered lower than the man, like in a typical patriarchy. I have questioned the existence of these gender bias norms multiple times, but have never gotten a logical answer. My culture has rather made me question and become a self-aware individual who never succumbs to the pressures of the society. These stereotypes did make my life harder when everything I did was given approval based on them, but they have never been too loud to impact my decisions about my life.

Task 1a

Being in an Australian society feels like a break from the constant judgment and comparisons from a patriarchal society. In comparison to the male dominating society in India, Australia probably never had such rules established for any gender. I see women, girls and boys for that matter, going places, living their life as they want. The culture of living with parents is also quite rare here. This also is a big factor, as the young teenagers live away from the influence of their parents; they discover life on their own. In India, the family and society are the ones to embed the thought that girls are inferior to boys. But in Australia, such stereotypes are not existent, at least based on my experiences. I have seen women Uber drivers, women working in investment banking and women working till late night in offices. All of these instances will never be found in an Indian society.

The ideas and beliefs which exist in an Indian community about male and female genders are not quite consistent in Australia. I personally have also become quite open-minded and relaxed about living my life confidently, and never comparing myself to any of the other gender. With the values and beliefs I come from, I have always questioned the stereotypes and have never been a follower, so it was not difficult for me to adjust in Australian society. As for the cultural differences, I found college going children not living with their families and meeting them up only on special occasions. It was a bit surprising to me as in India, such practice is not prevalent.

Task 2

  1. I believe that communication and open mindedness can solve any issue be it cultural, social or personal. I would like to speak openly to my friends and my close ones who believe in the gender bias, to try to understand their perspective. Eventually, convincing them to adopt an open mind set for both girls and boys is the goal.
  • I want to be more confident in expressing my opinions. Even though I have never taken any decision under the pressure to satisfy the norms of society, but somewhere deep down such biases decrease my confidence. Hence, to be confident and logical is my goal for improvement of my personality.
  1. From a professional perspective, I want to create a workplace environment which never integrates any biases from my culture. In a workplace, it is necessary for individuals to be treated equally for optimizing their productivity and teamwork. Reaching a gender bias free workplace is something I look forward to achieve.
  • I wish to be a part of an NGO which works with and for women who have been victims of the gender bias. There are multiple women who suffer male domination in terms of physical violence and domestic abuse. I want to work for them and make a difference.

Task 3

Based on the understanding of examples of various social workers, I developed quite a lot of admiration by knowing the kind of work they have been engaged into. From understanding the stories of aboriginals, to creating a mutual trust with them is a long journey (metaphor, 2015). Some of my values which I want to incorporate into my practice framework will include critical reflection, care and as mentioned by Steve Forward, the action-reflection approach. The critical reflection part is the backbone of understanding the story, issues and concerns of a community.  Once this aspect is done with utmost clarity, I believe it will be quite helpful to take conscious actions for the betterment. In the part of care, I would want to include both the care of emotions of my clientele as well as myself. Sometimes in listening and being part of someone else’s story can leave an impact on your mind too, which is why I want to look out for my clientele and my own emotions. The presence of mind should be a priority rather than flowing in emotions. I will practice the action-reflection approach (Forward, 2014). This will provide the ability to critically reflect on my actions and then take further decisions. It becomes integral in the social practice framework that one needs to separate their own views and opinions to actually understand the story of a different community. With time, I would like to develop such ability to be completely unbiased and be an active listener, rather a double listener. The strongest belief which I have always had is that human rights are a default, they are not an option, and I will continue to operate through this belief. This needs time to consolidate and become a professional ground for my practice, but with time I am certain to be able to reach there.

References

metaphor. (2015, August 30). A Social Work Practice Framework: The Right Mix for me…Metaphorically Speaking. https://www.metaphoricallyspeaking.com.au/a-social-work-practice-framework-the-right-mix-for-me/

Forward, S. (2014, November 11). My Practice Framework. Steve Forward. https://steveforwardportfolio.wordpress.com/practice-framework/my-practice-framework/

Task 4

The term critical reflection is way more than just a deeper analysis of situations and theories. The use of theories from the text to a situation is something which is taught, but one learns it through their own experiences. I believe an important part of critical reflection is to be biasfree. When analyzing a situation critically, it is necessary to understand the two sides of the story and then through the application of theories, one can reach to a conclusion. It is prevalent in the critical reflection that multiple aspects of a situation are considered, which is very important to reach to a meaningful conclusion. This is because anybody with a sense of rationality can give the most common and apparent solution, but a professional who can critically reflect on situations will understand the cause, apprehensions and then lead to a conclusion. This is my understanding of critical reflection.

When I wish to be critically reflective, I need to understand the two sides of the coin, dwell on the cause and circumstances which led to such situation and then suggest a solution. This is applicable in both personal and professional affinity. To begin this practice, I would start from being a good listener. Multiple times I have observed that I intend to speak more than listen, which is something I would like to change to be a critical reflector. Some another ways to start are to consider the pros and cons or hearing every version of the story. Based on various versions, one can link the threads and understand what is true and what is made up. This will allow for a critical reflection, eventually leading to a conclusion which can be right on both societal and personal terms.

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