Field Instructors are considered social work educators in the field and play an important role in the professional development of social work students. Studies have shown that the quality of field instruction in social work is a very significant factor which influences the student’s perspective towards social change and social work. The goal of the fieldwork placement is to provide students the space and opportunities to integrate theory, learn practice skills, and experience the expression of values in social contexts. This paper discusses the opportunities and challenges faced by the field instructor when helping the student apply and internalise the values and principles of social work within an environment of ambivalence and unpredictability. The article is based on the experiences of the author as a fieldwork supervisor and social work educator for over 30 years. Discussions have also been held with fieldwork supervisors and students to obtain their perceptions and suggestions related to inculcation of values through field instruction.
The field instructor’s own professional values and competencies as a social worker; the need to provide hope in a changing context of increasing inequities and oppressive forces; the significance of role modeling; the nature of student-supervisor relationship; the operationalisation of values and principles are some of the aspects which are discussed in the article.