01 SES 01 A, Mentoring
The purpose of this analytical paper is to examine how culturally embedded norms, values, relations and prerequisites operate in the development of a mentoring system. This is done by contrasting the case of Sweden with that of Finland. Although these neighbouring Nordic countries have a lot in common, their educational systems have taken different directions, especially with regard to the mentoring of new teachers (Aspfors, Fransson & Heikkinen, 2012). As is proposed and argued in this paper, these different approaches to mentoring are largely culturally embedded and the results of specific social, cultural, educational, philosophical and political conditions. I will analyse these culturally embedded preconditions for mentoring at an overall macro-level.
In Finland, the mentoring of (new) teachers came into focus in 2010 with the launching of the national programme Osaava Werme, funded by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture. Mentoring is organised as peer-group mentoring with groups of 4-10 early career teachers, from different schools and with different subject skills, in their first to fifth year. In one year they participate in six to eight seminars which are facilitated by an experienced and specially trained teacher. This programme, which is voluntary, has evolved out of research and a series of pilot projects and action research programmes (e.g. Heikkinen, Jokinen & Tynjälä, 2012).
In Sweden, the mentoring of new teachers came about as a result of the Swedish Parliament’s decision in 2011 to implement a teacher registration reform and a mandatory probation year for new teachers. The reform requires new teachers to have a mentor, and to be evaluated by principals as to whether he/she is competent enough to be registered. One-to-one mentoring is emphasised in the policy documents and the reform is regarded as a top-down reform (Swedish National Agency for Education, 2011).
Theoretical framework - the dynamic of culture
The analysis of cultural aspects and the theoretical framework both focus on culture and cultural dynamics. According to McDaniel, Samovar and Porter (2012), definitions of culture often focus on “shared values, attitudes, beliefs, behaviours, norms, material objects, and symbolic resources” (p. 10-11). However, the aspects that construe what we call culture are not fixed and stable (Hall, 2007). On the contrary, they are construed and negotiated in human interactions and are thus always included in processes of transformation and change.
By means of the Cultural Mentoring Framework, Kochan and Pascarelli (2012) offer an analytical framework for analysing these aspects of mentoring in terms of three cultural constructs: traditional, transitional and transformative. The rationale of the traditional construct is to transmit the existing culture to newcomers, thus recognising the norms, values, beliefs, behaviour and so on as timeless and general. The rationale of the transitional construct is change and adaptation to changing preconditions. Changing the preconditions, such as changing teachers’ tasks or emphasising certain organizational aspects or perspectives of teaching and learning, may lead to mentors facilitating the transformation process of these ‘messages’. The rationale of the transformative construct is, according to Kochan and Pascarelli, to move beyond the transitional construct by questioning norms, values, beliefs and behaviour more, and in that way, contribute to cultural change. In a transformative construct, mentoring may take the shape of networking and learning communities with evolving and transforming roles that challenge and change the concepts of mentoring. This framework offers insights into the different aspects of (possible) cultures and the dynamic of cultures, i.e. the mechanisms for how culture changes, evolves and may be challenged. Thus, the changing preconditions for educational systems and new aspects and ideas all become intertwined with the cultural conditions, and result in culturally-bound outcomes.
Author, [details removed for peer review] (2011). [details removed for peer review] Paper presented in the, at the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER) in **** ** September **. Aspfors, J., Fransson, G. & Heikkinen, H.L.T. (2012). Mentoring as dialogue, collaboration and/or assessment? In P. Tynjälä, M.-L. Stenström & M. Saarnivaara (Eds.) Transitions and Transformations in Learning and Education. (pp. 271–290). Berlin: Springer. Denzin, N.K. & Lincoln, Y.S. (eds.) (2005). The Sage handbook of qualitative research. (3. ed.) Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage. Dyrdal Solbrekke, T. & Englund, T. (2011). Bringing professional responsibility back in. Studies in Higher Education 36(7), 847–861. Hall, S. (Ed.) (1997). Representation: cultural representations and signifying practices. London: Sage. Heikkinen, H. L. T., Jokinen, H. & Tynjälä, P. (Eds.) (2012). Peer-Group Mentoring for Teachers Professional Development, London/New York: Taylor and Francis. Jokinen, H., [details removed for peer review] (201*). [details removed for peer review] Paper presented at the European Conference of Educational Research (ECER) in [details removed for peer review], **-** August 201*. Jokinen, H. & Välijärvi, J. (2006). Making Mentoring a Tool for Supporting Teachers’ Professional Development. In: R. Jakku-Sihvonen & H. Niemi (Eds.) (2006): Research-based Teacher Education in Finland. Reflections by Finnish Teacher Educators. Research in Educational Sciences 25. Turku: Finnish Educational. Research Association. Kochan, F. & Pascarelli, J.T. (2012). Culture and Mentoring in the Global Age. In Fletcher, S. and Mullen, C.A. Handbook of Mentoring and Coaching in Education (pp.184-198), Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Press. Lundahl, L., Erixon Arreman, I., Lundström, U. & Rönnberg, L. (2010). Setting Things Right? Swedish Upper Secondary School Reform in a 40-Year Perspective, European Journal of Education 45(1), 46–59. McDaniel, E. R., Samovar, L. A. & Porter, R. E. (2012). Using Intercultural Communication: The Building Block, In: L. A. Samovar, R. E. Porter & E. R. McDaniel (Eds.) (2012). Intercultural Communication. A Reader, (13th edition), (pp. 4–18), Boston, Mass.: Wadsworth Cengage Learning. Miles, M., Huberman, M. & Saldaña, J. (2014) Qualitative data analysis: a methods sourcebook, 3. ed., Sage Publication. Pickerig, M (2008). Experience and the Social World. In M. Pickering (Ed.). Research Methods for Cultural Studies, (p. 17-31). Edinburgh: Edinburgh University. Sahlberg, P. (2011). Finnish lessons: what can the world learn from educational change in Finland? Teachers College Press: New York.
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