Developing a poverty-aware pedagogy: From paradigm to reflexive practice in post-academic social work education

Griet Roets, Laura van Beveren, Yuval Saar-Heiman, Heidi Degerickx, Caroline Vandekinderen, Michal Krumer-Nevo, Kris Rutten, Rudi Roose

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Social work scholars have argued that poverty reminds us of the necessary commitment to educate professional social workers. Being inspired by a conceptual framework that captures how poverty-awareness can be the subject of teaching in social work programmes, this article offers a qualitative analysis of the reflections being made by a cohort of students about their learning process in a post-academic course. Five common themes are discussed: (i) from recognising micro-aggressions to tackling macro-aggressions; (ii) poverty is an instance of social injustice and requires collective indignation; (iii) notions of commitment and solidarity are ambiguous; (iv) poverty is an instance of social inequality rather than merely social exclusion; and (v) from being heroic agents to social change 'from within'. Based on these findings, we raise the lessons learned for social work educators. First, they should invite students to reinvigorate the social justice aspirations of social work practices and take a stance in relation to their environment and the wider historical and sociopolitical circumstances. Secondly, a poverty-aware pedagogy requires collective and long-lasting supervision at the frontline individual, organisational and societal/social policy level. Collective critical reflection and supervision might open up avenues to collectively challenge and change socially unjust rhetoric and practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1495-1512
Number of pages18
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2020


  • Inequality
  • Poverty
  • Poverty-aware paradigm
  • Reflexivity
  • Social justice
  • Social work education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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