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Jean K. Quam

Bertha Capen Reynolds (1885–1978), social worker, educator, Marxist, and activist, advocated for the working class and oppressed groups. She was associate director of Smith College School for Social Work (1925–1938), but was asked to leave because of her union activities.


Field education has played a significant role in the professional development of social workers since the beginning of the last century. Although the apprenticeship model of training continues to play a significant role, variations on this theme have been explored and continue to be developed in response to political, academic, and economic challenges. Power and privilege endemic to field education have led to social work placement models that require students to commit up to and beyond 20 hours per week of mostly unpaid time to field agencies whose values and structures may replicate systems of oppression. Technological advances have enabled some programs to expand field education into new communities, both nationally and internationally, but solutions to field education challenges remain elusive. Changes in educational policy and accreditation guidelines have the potential to revitalize the role of field education, address issues of inequity, and increase research efforts devoted to this important component of professional education.