01 SES 08 C, Building Mentoring Relationships
It is well-known that mentoring is widely utilised to support teachers’ professional development, yet research on the dispositions in group mentoring activities is quite limited (Hudson, 2013). One important function of mentoring is to address the psychosocial features in that developmental process (Hawkey, 2006; Kram & Isabella, 1985; Uitto et al., 2016). Success in this process is greatly dependable on the interaction between participants and the emotional and affective elements need attention when engaging in mentoring process. Mentoring relationship is built on personal, professional, ethical and moral elements, which can be also describe as professional friendship (Gardiner, 2008). Aforementioned elements have already been concern for ancient philosophers, such as Aristotle (Kakkori & Huttunen, 2014). Focus of this presentation is to investigate the psychosocial aspects in terms of Aristotelian philosophy and to advance the research of mentoring relationship and dispositions taking into account the contemporary practices of mentoring in group formation.
In Aristotelian philosophy a virtuous citizen must be educated. Without virtues (arete) the polis community is impossible. Virtues are the human properties or action dispositions which facilitate the existence of telos, the purpose of a human being. The telos of a man is to live a life worth living (eudaimon). Man achieves his telos by living a good life, which is a life lived according to virtues. Man cannot achieve eudaimon by himself. One important element for good life and eudaimon is friendship, phronesis and theoretical thinking. For Aristotle friendships is “a virtue or involves virtue, and is an absolute necessity in life. No one would choose to live without friends, even if he had all the other goods” (Aristotle, 2000, 1155a 3 – 6). Friends “must have goodwill to each other, wish good things to each other for one of the reasons given [these reasons are: goodness, pleasantness and usefulness], and not be unaware of it” (Aristotle, 2000, 1156a 3 – 5). Accordingly to these three reasons, there are three forms of friendship: utility friendship, pleasure friendship and perfect (true) friendship (Aristotle, 2000, XIII, Chapters 3 – 4). Kakkori & Huttunen (2007; 2014) propose that there is possibility for friendship between teacher and student which contains elements of all these three Aristotelian forms of friendship but it actually is a new form of a friendship. Kakkori & Huttunen introduce a new form of a friendship called pedagogical friendship (Kakkori & Huttunen 2007, 27). Kakkori & Huttunen claims that pedagogical friendship requires pedagogical love (see Skinnari 2007; Efron 2005). “Pedagogical love is an everyday professional and vocational feeling that the devoted teacher feels towards children. This pedagogical love is a one-sided feeling coming from teacher’s side. A teacher’s pedagogical love can be a foundation for pedagogical friendship which is reciprocal relationship between teacher and her pupils. Pedagogical friendship does not require equal possession of virtues of character.” (Kakkori & Huttunen 2007, 27).
The possible friendship between mentor and menteé is another and peculiar form of friendship. There many ways to establish mentoring relationship and mentoring concepts does contain contested practices that not always nurture the friendship relationship (Kemmis et al. 2014). We put importance to concept of friendship in Aristotelian sense as it will elevate the mentoring practices from the administrative or supervisory relationship to reciprocal and respective relationship that would provide fertile grounding for development that includes aspects of personal, professional and social development.
In this presentation, we have adopted a method of philosophical empirical inquiry. According to Kemmis et al. (2014) philosophical empirical inquiry is two-folded; on the empirical side, making observations (in a broad meaning) and eliciting the descriptions of the practice and practice arrangements through research activities. On the philosophical side, researchers engage with discussions and issues of theories and philosophy relevant for the topic being examined. Our empirical interrogation derives from the study of Finnish model of peer-group mentoring (Pennanen, 2017). The data in the study consisted of two different data sets. The first was semi-structured focus group interviews with mentors and their group members (n=16 participants). The second data set consisted of essays written by 14 mentors during mentor training. Mentors were asked to present two fictional examples of PGM meetings as written stories (Mottart, Vanhooren, Rutten & Soetaert, 2009). The data was analysed using qualitative content analysis. Researchers used the question ‘What constitutes the social disposition of a mentor and menteé?’ to identify relevant responses in the data. The analysis produced characteristics (in data-driven manner) that resembled the structure to Aristotle’s virtues of character. We aim to elaborate the philosophical reflections related to Aristotelian virtue philosophy and further the theoretical conception of dispositions in mentoring literature.
Our aim is to bring understanding and conceptualise the psychosocial features in mentoring relationship through empirical data and philosophical reflections. The central problem to solve would be defining a concept for the peculiar type of friendship in mentoring relationships. For the definition of the concept, we have several tasks; 1) to seek for theoretical foundation in the Aristotelian philosophy, 2) locate the concept in modern mentoring research and 3) provide a term to understand the concept of friendship in mentoring.
Aristotle (1967). ‘Athenian Constitution, Eudeamian Ethics, Virtues and Vices’. In Aristotle in twenty-three volumes, vol. XX (Greco-English edition). Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. Aristotle (2000). Nicomachean Ethics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Efron, S. (2005). ‘Janusz Korczak: Legacy of a Practitioner-Researcher’. Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 56, no. 2. Gardiner, C. (2008). Mentoring: towards an improved professional friendship. Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham. Hawkey, K. (2006). Emotional intelligence and mentoring in pre‐service teacher education: a literature review. Mentoring & Tutoring, 14(2), 137-147. Hudson, P. (2013). Mentoring as professional development: ‘growth for both’ mentor and mentee. Professional development in education, 39(5), 771-783. Kakkori, L., & Huttunen, R. (2007). Aristotle and Pedagogical Ethics. Paideusis, Volume 16 (2007), No. 1, pp. 17-28. Kakkori, L., & Huttunen, R. (2014). Onko opettaja oppilaiden ystävä?: pedagogisen ystävyyden idea [Is Teacher a Friend with pupils?: Introducing the Notion of Pedagogical Frienship]. Kasvatus, 45(4), 184-191. Kemmis, S., Heikkinen, H. L., Fransson, G., Aspfors, J., & Edwards-Groves, C. (2014). Mentoring of new teachers as a contested practice: Supervision, support and collaborative self-development. Teaching and teacher education, 43, 154-164. Kemmis, S., Wilkinson, J., Edwards-Groves, C., Hardy, I., Grootenboer, P. & Bristol L. (2014). Changing Practices, Changing Education. Springer Singapore. Kram, K. E., & Isabella, L. A. (1985). Mentoring alternatives: The role of peer relationships in career development. Academy of management Journal, 28(1), 110-132. Mottart, A., Vanhooren, S., Rutten, K., & Soetaert, R. (2009). Fictional narratives as didactical tools: using Frank McCourt's Teacher Man in pre‐service teacher education. Educational Studies, 35(5), 493-502. Pennanen, M., Heikkinen, H.,L.,T. & Tynjälä, P. (2017). Manuscript. Virtues and vices in the Finnish model of teachers’ peer-group mentoring: A philosophical empirical approach. Finnish Institute for Educational Research. University of Jyväskylä, Finland. Skinnari, S. 2004. Pedagoginen rakkaus [Pedagogical Love]. Jyväskylä: PS-kustannus. Uitto, M., Kaunisto, S. L., Kelchtermans, G., & Estola, E. (2016). Peer group as a meeting place: Reconstructions of teachers’ self-understanding and the presence of vulnerability. International Journal of Educational Research, 75, 7-16.
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