Monday, 14 June 2010

A blog about....what?

Sounds a little specific doesn't it? Well, perhaps - but I hope, like me, you're interested in how people change and how working with others changes everyone along the way. You might even fall into the following categories of reader:

  • People interested in why we do what we do at work, and how we ended up like that. Perhaps you can reflect on your own personal or professional journey and think about how you have changed, who (or what) has influenced you?
  • Academics (students, researchers, authors) interested in sociology, children's services and theories of practice.
  • People working in (or just interested in) children's services - and how professionals work together in multi professional, possibly 'integrated' services like Sure Start Children's Centres. 
  • My wife, who might just wonder what on earth I do at work (no; I know you know...really).
  • People who ended up on the wrong blog. Ooops.

In the hope that I persist with this blog (it's a bit of a 'pilot' at this stage), I thought it might be good to reflect on why on earth I want to post up these thoughts. Although I'm a senior lecturer at a University, I have not always done that. In fact, I've only recently joined the strange institution that is higher education. I've always been fascinated about why people do what they do and how they influence or are influenced. I started as an art student who quickly moved (through a year out placement with a church in West London) to a youth and community worker. This led to me volunteering with an international AIDS charity, setting up a schools community education network in association with 2/3 world charities, developing my community arts practice and lots more. I then took these skills and became a lead community development worker with a local authority (council) which involved developing groups, project management, supporting volunteers and community networks, funding, building community centres and so on. All of this has involved children and their families. I got involved with specific 'early years' work through joining one of the early 'Sure Start Local Programmes' initially with a team manager / community development remit. This ended as being an 'area lead' for two large children's centres, running my own consultancy business part time and a whole heap of other things. I'm now an academic. Finally, overarching themes and 'frames' for me has been my own christian faith, identity as an amateur visual artist and being both a son, husband and father.

Looking back on this lot (was I having a late thirties moment of reflection?) prompted me to look into others' experiences of professional change. I think I've had a strange 'unplanned' journey and I know I've changed over the years - but I'm not quite sure how. Part of the answer for me lies in asking others' about their experience of professional transformation, asking things like:

  • how do our interactions with others affect our perceptions and actions at work?
  • what more can we know about the 'informal' development of professional practice in children's service settings?
  • how do we create our own 'story' that frames and interprets the professional world we find ourselves in?