This demonstrates the importance with which social pedagogues are regarded in these European countries. Social pedagogues may work in many areas such as youth work, residential care or various fieldwork settings. Many social pedagogues are also qualified in areas of art, drama or music, which enables them to utilise these skills in their work with individuals. Pedagogues usually work with children and young people, although the concepts have been successfully applied to other groups as well, such as adults and the elderly. The training which social pedagogues undergo in Europe is very thorough and consists of both academic training and training to develop the personal and practical skills of the professional. These skills are the underpinning foundation which allows the pedagogue to interact with the client in ways which are not usually achieved by traditional social workers following the practices frequently used in the UK.
The concept of social pedagogy can be traced back to the mid 1900s and the days of the German educationists such as Karl Mager and Adolph Diesterweg (Rauschenbach, 1999). The theories of pedagogy were first developed by educationists such as Paul Natorp. The theories were influenced by Plato, the epistemological and ethical ideas of Immanuel Kant and Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi's theory of education. During the 1920s Herman Nohl, another German educationist interpreted social pedagogy in terms of a theoretical framework for social work based on the hermeneutic philosophy of science that was dominant in Germany at the time. This approach came under criticism after the Second World War, leading to the development of new paradigms by Klaus Mollenhauer and Hans Thiersch.
The main traditions of pedagogy at the current time are still partially based on these original concepts, although there have been developments made in each of the individual countries in which the concepts have been adopted. The concepts have not been adopted globally, but have been used successfully across Europe and in several other countries such as South Africa. Although the concepts have not been formally adopted in the UK and the US, there are still some issues in social work which are approached in a very similar way to the pedagogical approach. Some pedagogical movements have also significantly influenced social work activities and educational theories in the UK and US (Hmlinen, 2003).
Theories of social pedagogy were heavily influenced by industrialisation and urbanisation processes, which created a multitude of social problems which had not previously been observed. Education was seen as an important factor in addressing these problems, for individuals, families and communities. This led to the development of social pedagogy as a system of organised activities.
Social pedagogy is focused on promoting the well-being of the person as a whole, which also includes an educational function. The aim is to find educational solutions to social problems (Hmlinen, 2003). The education is not concerned so much with the traditional knowledge approach of learning, but more the social and moral aspects of learning, which is in keeping with the concept of developing the person as a whole (Vitler, n.d.). The concept determines that you can influence social circumstances through education.
The particular value of social pedagogy