Academic journal article Journal of Education and Learning

I Learn Nothing! -Voices of Visitors at Youth Clubs in Sweden

Academic journal article Journal of Education and Learning

I Learn Nothing! -Voices of Visitors at Youth Clubs in Sweden

Article excerpt


The purpose of this article is first to make visible, examine, and illuminate the young generation's perception of what they learn and how they learn during their visits to youth clubs and similar meeting places; second, through visitors' own comments, interviews with visitors, and analysis of staff's diaries, to reflect on and analyze the unconscious learning that might have been visible; and third, to discuss how these particular contexts contribute to learning. The research was conducted using two questionnaires, staffdaily notes in diaries, and through interviews with young people visiting youth clubs and similar meeting places. The results of the empirical study show that there is a gap between the youngsters' perception of what they learn or verbalize with the help of youth leaders and what they actually learn. To conclude, these meeting places can have a compensatory function to schools; a sort of expanded learning to help young people develop their citizenship. However, I shall take a critical view and argue that youth clubs and similar meeting places lack in making visible what young visitors actually can learn from their visits. To make it possible I suggest that the learning situations must be verbalized, discussed and made visible together with the youth leaders and the group of visitors or the individual visitors.

Keywords: youth, learning, youth clubs, citizenship

1. Introduction

In this article, the focus was on learning outside school where much learning takes place without systematic teaching. The analysis of the empirical data aims at making visible what is often invisible for, in this case, the youths themselves and their leaders took place. This research has been conducted in Swedish local councils in the environment of meeting places for youth. These meeting places can have different names such as youth club, house of all activities, the house of youth, or similar names. In most cases these meeting places are organized and managed by the municipalities but there may be other actors as well, such as different sports organizations, associations or the church-most of them funded by the local councils. Youth clubs and similar meeting places for youth are financed by taxes. They are free of charge for visitors, are open almost every evening, and you do not need membership as a visitor. Youth clubs and similar meeting places are informal institutions compared to schools where one can come and go as desired, with no demands for doing things; it is possible to just hang around with friends. But if you are interested, activities such as playing billiards, table tennis, parlor games, play cards or computer games, draw and paint, arrange excursions and so forth abound. The visitors may also start their own activities of interest, such as forming a film club, running a café, or making outdoor trips.

What we learn outside school is often seen as common sense, everyday knowledge, and social knowledge. However, as meeting places for youth are tax funded there are expectations from authorities-national, regional, and local-that these places shall contribute to the development of young people as citizens as well as to development their citizenship.

In the governmental policy for the youth, citizenship plays a central part. Hence it has been a highly prioritized issue for the Swedish National Board for Youth Affairs for many years. Some objectives of the Swedish National Board for Youth Affairs policy are set by the Swedish government. First, young people shall have possibilities to influence the development of the society in general, as well as their own lives and their local environment. Second, young people shall have real access to a good material, cultural, and social standard of living. They shall also be afforded beneficial conditions for good health and be protected from being subjected to crime and different forms of discrimination (Ungdomsstyrelsen, 2008).

Svenneke-Pettersson and Havström (2007) argue that developed and well-functioning democratic methods have a lot to offer the visitors at the youth clubs. …

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