The Relevance of Social Work Education

, Nirmala Punnusami, Leave a comment

It is the considered view of The National Association of Scholars that American schools of social work have lost their noble mission. They no longer adhere to the basic principles of intellectual inquiry. They no longer work on relevant issues of poverty, drug addiction, crime and developing informed opinions, but instead their education programs now run counter to the spirit and the principles of good educational practice.

They have compromised their education principles. They have subverted their social work education, and have now gone to an advanced stage of politicization and coerced intellectual conformity.

In order to explain all this, The National Association of Scholars has shown that social work educational programs have gone through some significant changes during the Nixon, Ford and Carter administrations of the 1960’s and 1970’s, showing a detailed study of social work education programs, looking specifically at accreditation programs, their missions, and of course their content standards.

It is no doubt that education is a form of indoctrination. A teacher teaches not only the content of the curriculum, but he also teaches himself, the “hidden curriculum”. In short, he teaches his own values, and in some cases students do mimic their teachers who are good role models.

There is nothing wrong with the students conforming to the accreditation standards and adhering to the N.A.S.W. code of ethics. Students attending any educational institution must adhere to the code of ethics of that institution.

A survey of the content of the curriculum of social workers shows that social workers must “understand the forms and mechanisms of oppression and discrimination that lead to poverty, racism, and they must advocate for social and economic justice. They must also understand and respect social and cultural diversity. They must also recognize the worth, uniqueness and the dignity of all individuals, fostering and strengthening the family and other systems of support, and assisting individuals to enhance and fulfill their potential.”

It is clear that what the social workers have to do is a comparative study, so that when they leave the educational institution and they move to practice their profession, they will have a clear understanding of the workings of their political, social, economic and ideological environment in which they have to function.

The National Association of Scholars citied three cases to explain the situation, that in some educational institutions, students are coerced to follow the social and political views of faculty members. This is definitely unacceptable and should be eradicated.

Finally, a look at the words used in the mission statements and the content listings, the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accreditation standards, the N.A.S.W. code of ethics, and a few case histories point to the general conclusion that “social work education is scandalous and is unacceptable.” True, there needs to be some reforms. There must not be mandatory advocacy requirements. There must not be ideological mandates, and agencies must not violate constitutionally protected freedom of speech and religious conscience.

In conclusion, there can never be an ideal curriculum for social workers. Despite their limitations, they are providing a social service. In doing their work, they empathize with their clientele, who are disadvantaged in many ways. Their work is grounded in genuine sympathy. American schools of social work do need to reflect and reexamine what they are doing, but definitely their work is not scandalous. Their work is incredibly relevant.

Nirmala Punnusami is an intern at the American Journalism Center, a training program run by Accuracy in Media and Accuracy in Academia.