Contemporary iterations of the youth question present social work with a generative challenge to imagine the education needs of youth as social work students, and at the same time, to imagine the intervention needs of youth as service users. This paper engages this challenge through an empirical case that confronted us with our own preconceived understandings of young people and social work: a funded project to support the program evaluation capacity of a national network of youth centers in Canada. Working through three tensions that emerged in this work—(1) assumptions about youth and workers, (2) participation as a best-practice, and (3) how local data collection practices are networked to ambiguous, ongoing social processes—we reflect project learning and youth studies literature together to explore the possibilities of ‘critical inquiry skills’ in social work education. As we develop the concept here, critical inquiry skills are a means to encourage young people to see themselves as simultaneously within and outside of the categories and approaches they are taught and subjected to, and by extension, to invite and support newcomers to make the discipline and profession their own.

Additional Metadata
Keywords critical bifocality, Critical inquiry skills, double agents, hybrid knowledge, uncertain practice, youth question
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1080/02615479.2019.1653273
Journal Social Work Education
Citation
Wilson, T.E. (Tina E.), Todd, S, Occhiuto, K. (Katherine), & Garrod, J.Z. (J. Z.). (2019). Social workers as double agents: critical inquiry, social work education, and the youth question. Social Work Education. doi:10.1080/02615479.2019.1653273