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Cook, Alice Hanson / Bavarian trade union youth

Purpose of organization,   pp. 8-9 PDF (944.3 KB)

Page 9

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Such a program is set up to recruit people to the group, interest
them, and indoctrinate them. As one youth leader put it: "The purpose
of a program is simply to win people for the union."
The other point of view in group work is that participation
in programbuilding has itself an educational value. Through
planning and carrying out its own program, a group develops its
interests and the members develop their ability to assume responsibility
and to work with other people while learning the particular sport,
songs, or handicraft in which they are interested.
When one considers how little opportunity working youth in
Germany has to make choices, to develop its own ideas, to make and
carry through decisions with a group, the opportunity which youth
groups can offer for this kind of experience is especially important.
To most union executives, the first type of program seems more
likely to succeed.  They see the youth groups as the chief, perhaps
the only, source of supply for new functionaries. They wiln support
youth groups which can fulfil this function but they have no
particular interest in the larger educational purposes which youth
groups may serve.
Although this attitude is certainly not peculiar to the trade
union movement alone, it is from time to time acute there.  If
union officials take time to analyze and examine the issue, they can,
of course, see the wisdom of an educational rather than an indoctrinational
approach. But when one measures youth work solely by the standard
of its quick production of young leaders, many reports from youth
groups on their activities may seem merely frivolous, dilatory or
Youth group leaders for their part consider their chief function
to assist groups to have an educational experience through building
their own programs and taking responsibility for carrying them
through. They testify, moreover, to the drawing power which this
approach to program has for young people who welcome the freedom
and opportunity for genuine self-government offered in the trade
union youth groups. Youth leaders are remarkably united in their
statement of their purposes; their problem is how to do their jobs
more skillfully. In endeavoring to work with their groups, they
meet many practical personal and group problems with which they
are frankly not equipped to deal and on which they want help.

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