The Diamond Model in action – a Capstone foster carer describes how she used the model to benefit her son

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Months after my foster son was taken into care, contact with his birth mother was stopped. It was judged too upsetting for him as his mother was so angry and this anger spilled out during contact. After she walked out of contact, slamming the door during an angry outburst, she lost the right to see her child.

My foster son asked regularly for contact but for years it was thought not to be in his interest although we did talk about it during reviews. After the social pedagogy course I got a bit braver and decided not to accept the ‘no’ but to explore this a bit and to talk about contact with my son’s therapist. Her view was thoroughly discussed and eventually we all decided to give contact another try. My son has now had two contacts with his mum: they have played together and done some art. Although it is very clear to see why his mum lost her child, it is also lovely to see both of them playing together and hopefully building up something positive together.

It would have been so easy to sit in my comfy chair and think about his mum as the person who has harmed my son a lot. This is of course true. However my son’s mum has had a very difficult life and I do not know what I would have done if I were in her position. Somehow I had the feeling that there was something in mum (maybe the diamond – well hidden) that made me fight for this contact. It is still early days but I hope that this was the right decision.

The Diamond Model

Although one of the properties of a diamond is how hard it is, Eichsteller and Holthoff’s diamond model relates to its property of intrinsic value. The model symbolises one of the most fundamental underpinning principles of social pedagogy – that there is a diamond within all of us. As human beings we are all precious and have a rich variety of knowledge, skills, abilities and attitudes. Not all diamonds are polished and sparkly, but all have the potential to be. Similarly, every person has the potential to shine out – and social pedagogy is about supporting them in this. Therefore, social pedagogy has four core aims that are closely linked: well-being and happiness, holistic learning, relationship, and empowerment, and these are all linked through creating and developing positive experiences.