Friday, July 10, 2009


Yesterday, I worked on updating our Learning Agreement to reflect CSWE's new Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards. As I worked on the form, I was able to reflect on the wisdom and value of these new standards. Each of the ten core competencies has sub-parts that gives enough detail about what social work is all about but isn't bogged down in minutia. For example, check out the third core competency:

Educational Policy 2.1.3Apply critical thinking to inform and communicate professional judgments. Social workers are knowledgeable about the principles of logic, scientific inquiry, and reasoned discernment. They use critical thinking augmented by creativity and curiosity. Critical thinking also requires the synthesis and communication of relevant information. Social workers

distinguish, appraise, and integrate multiple sources of knowledge, including research-based knowledge, and practice wisdom;

analyze models of assessment, prevention, intervention, and evaluation; and

demonstrate effective oral and written communication in working with individuals, families, groups, organizations, communities, and colleagues.

I thought, "How our students will demonstrate this competency?" which then led to "How do I demonstrate this competency?" I have multiple sources of knowledge - my professional library, access to social work journals, etc - but what about practice wisdom? My traditional sources of practice wisdom
have been my network of colleagues who share their ideas about best-practices when I run into them, mostly in the office or at conferences, or via email or listservs. Recently, I have found blogs by social workers and others to be a new and vibrant source of practice wisdom. Blogs offer me a place to "use critical thinking augmented by creativity and curiosity." The blogs I follow introduce me to new professionals who share honestly about how they are dealing with the many challenges that come along with being a social worker. They are creative and inspire me to be curious; they make me laugh and cry; they make me think and reflect in a different way about social work. My professional network of sources of practice wisdom has grown exponentially.

Every morning, I love to read the local newspaper from front to back (I generally skip the Sports and Business sections). I scan for stories related to social work and often clip out something to post by my office door (poverty, child abuse, social welfare policy). Now, after reading the newspaper, I check out my favorite blogs that come via RSS to my email and then I check Social Work Blogs to see what has been posted recently. I have learned the value of leaving comments and have been learning how to establish appropriate boundaries in my digital world just like I do in my physical world. What a wonderful way to start the day!

But, I still haven't answered the question, "How do social work students demonstrate this core competency?" Maybe I have?

1 comment:

therapydoc said...

Students don't like to demonstrate anything, it seems to me. We have to make it easy for them, give a little honey (help) and then ask them to reach a little.