Trends in Social Work, 1874-1956: A History Based on the Proceedings of the National Conference of Social Work

By Frank J. Bruno | Go to book overview

28
SOCIAL GROUP WORK

LIKE SOCIAL casework, social group work was practiced long before it was defined. The end that social group work seeks to accomplish, the realization of the social capacity of the individual, is a goal attained by numberless devices throughout all recorded history. Among the Greeks, games were so important that the Greeks measured time by the Olympic festivals. It is not stretching the term unjustifiably to say that the Olympic games came under the general heading of group work, even though we know nothing of their organizers. These games included music, dancing, oratory, pageantry, and dramatics, as well as games of physical skill. Who would venture to enumerate the many contributions made by those national occasions to the sense of unity and comradeship among the Greeks of the classical period? A similar claim may be made for the miracle plays of the medieval age, that of Oberammergau being the one which has persisted to the present.

After all, the ethics of social relationship are learned by the activities of social groups, as an incident to the major purpose of the group. An athletic team learns a skill, but incidentally, its members learn, by practice, the ethics of working together. Morals are better taught on the playground than in the Sunday school.

It is assumed (probably correctly) that as part of their culture, the earlier, more stable societies developed certain activities which would now be called group work, such as national games, dancing, plays, and music. It is a matter of record and

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