“That wrinkles my haltung”

by Cath Barton

Screen Shot 2018-02-27 at 18.58.48I’m hoping the heading has grabbed your attention?

What’s my haltung?  Why does it get wrinkled?  What’s the difference when your haltung is nourished and why we all need to recognise our own haltung?

This blog aims to share my learning from my MA Social Pedagogy Leadership and for me, learning about haltung sticks out as the absolute lightbulb moment when everything made sense, in work, in life, how I behave and how I am supported.

So rewinding a little bit, let’s start by introducing social pedagogy:

“Social pedagogy describes a holistic and relationship-centred way of working in care and educational settings with people across the course of their lives…it has a long-standing tradition as a field of practice and academic discipline concerned with addressing social inequality and facilitating social change by nurturing learning, well-being and connection both at an individual and community level.” Gardner 2018

It’s not we do, it’s the way that we do it

For me, ‘social pedagogy’ is the ‘how’ of social work.  Social work in its broadest sense is the ‘what we do’ to support people, a whole range of services including, amongst others, children’s services, residential care and home care.

Social Pedagogy is ‘how’ we do this; enable people to have what matters to them in their life, provide great support, build relationships and support people to be part of their communities.

For more info check out Ali Gardner’s blog https://lynromeo.blog.gov.uk/2018/12/19/social-pedagogy-social-what/

Or have a look at my short introductory video https://vimeo.com/296464917

Social Pedagogy is primarily concerned with well-being, learning and growth and seeks to recognise and promote individual potential.  It is underpinned by the concept of ‘Haltung’, a German phrase roughly translating as ‘mindset’ or ‘attitude’.

Haltung is about how we guide our actions by what we believe in and how our values cause us to respond in a certain way.  Haltung is fundamental to social pedagogy because it demonstrates the importance of the professional being authentic.

According to Gabriel Eichsteller (Thempra) your haltung is not like a coat which you can take off at the end of your working day but rather your ‘skin’ that makes you who you are.

For me haltung is reflected in values; the fundamental beliefs of a person or organization, the guiding principles which determine behaviour.

Research shows that people who are consciously connected with their priority values are better equipped to lead with authenticity and suffer less from stress than people who are unaware of their personal priority values (Le Fevre 2018).

I first learnt about values doing a future leaders course with Wellbeing Teams, facilitated by Helen Sanderson and Emily McArdle, with contribution from Jackie Le Fevre, who passionately shared about the importance of values.  According to Jackie, values are “big, emotionally rich ideas that help us make sense of the world and our place in that world.  Our values lie behind our choices and our behaviours. Our values shape how we feel about, respond and rise to both our daily life and our ultimate grand plan.” (2018)

Completing my values profile and recognising the link with my haltung was a light bulb moment.   Emily, my critical friend, supports me to think bigger and deeper and asked “are there times when your values cause you to act in ways that aren’t helpful?.”  My initial response was, of course not!  But then I reflected a bit more…

My top value of belonging is described as “having a place or sense of home. To be devoted to people you consider family and to experience belonging and acceptance.”   My need to have a sense of belonging is at my very core, whether at home, with family, with those I’m close to and in work.  Remember haltung is a skin not a jacket and you can’t remove it, it’s who you are.  If I have a sense of belonging, I feel connected, joyful and productive.  It’s the feeling of being valued, of being part of something bigger.  When I don’t have a sense of belonging I sulk, feel left out and withdraw.

Having no sense of belonging wrinkles my haltung.  

The lightbulb moment learning about values and haltung helped me to understand why I behave in this way.

According to Brent at al (2017) “the ability to align our personal values and tap into our own intrinsic motivators is a wonderful privilege.”

Haltung and values are weaved like a golden thread through all aspects of Community Circles and Wellbeing Teams and underpin all we do; building authentic relationships, taking responsibility through the principles of self management, enabling people supported and team members to flourish, being creative and curious to deliver compassionate care and support.

I am in a wonderful position of working in a space of psychological safety, that space “where team members feel safe to take risks and be vulnerable in front of each other” Rosovsky (2015) where I can bring my whole self to work and ask for what I need.  It’s also great when you’re asked, “how can we nourish your value of belonging?”

My values now have a more prominent space on my one page profile, people around me know what nourishes and what wrinkles my haltung and this gives me a greater sense of purpose and wellbeing.  I’m conscious to reflect with colleagues about their haltung and how we can do more of the things that reflect our values.

Connection with values and recognising your haltung can increase innovation, productivity, trust, confidence and courage while reducing the harmful effects of stress and fear.

Find out what nourishes your haltung

Cath Barton

Community Circles


Le Fevre, J (2018) http://www.magmaeffect.com

Rosovsky, J (2015) https://rework.withgoogle.com/blog/five-keys-to-a-successful-google-team/

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