01 SES 14 A, Ecosystems of Teacher Development Part 1
Symposium to be continued in 01 SES 16 A
In this symposium, practices of professional development of teachers are studied from the theoretical views of ecosystems of learning. In this theoretical approach, practices of teacher education, including initial teacher education and the career long professional development, are studied by applying a metaphor of organisms or living entities which interrelate with one another like living organisms in the nature. Sometimes social practices, like species of an ecosystem, can be regarded as competitors, fighting against each other and competing for resources (Moore 1996). Sometimes they collaborate with other species, even forming a symbiosis. To survive in an ecosystem, the species (the particular social practice) must find an ecological niche which provides optimal living conditions for that particular species.
Our approach is based on an view that social practices are ontologically ecosystems. This ontological view has been chrystallized by Fritjof Capra: “Every living organism, from the smallest bacterium to all the varieties of plants and animals, including humans, is a living system. Second, the parts of living systems are themselves living systems. A leaf is a living system. A muscle is a living system. Every cell in our bodies is a living system. Third, communities of organisms, including both ecosystems and human social systems such as families, schools and other human communities, are living systems (Capra, 2005, p. 19).” From this perspective, all social practices may indeed be understood as living systems at an ontological level. Like in the ecosystems of nature, social practices co-exist interdependently to each other and to other living organisms. This co-existence is invoked in the notion of Zusammenhang or ‘hanging together’ (Schatzki, 1996; Wittgenstein, 1953) by which human beings and human lives exist in ‘the social’ and ‘sociality’.
The symposium is divided into three parts. The theoretical perspectives are introduced especially in the first and second presentations of the symposium. The rest of the papers introduce empirical studies applying the theory of ecosystems. The concept of system has been widely used in the general system theories (e.g. Bronfenbrenner 1979; Luhmann, Baecker & Gilgen 2013). Some of the theoretical approaches are more directly connected with the theory of ecology (e.g. Capra 2005; Capra & Jakobsen 2017) whereas some other perspectives have been adapted to educational research from the theory of economics (e.g. Moore 1993). We also acknowledge approaches that examine the role of ubiquitous technologies from an ecological perspective (Zhao, Lei & Frank, 2006). Our focus in this symposium is especially on the theory of ecologies of practices by Stephen Kemmis and his colleagues (Kemmis, Edwards-Groves, Wilkinson, & Hardy 2012; Kemmis & Heikkinen 2012) which has been influenced by the practice theory of Theodore Schatzki and the ecological principles of Fritjof Capra.
In Part 1 of the symposium, after an overview on different theories of (eco)systems (Heikkinen, Huttunen & Hardy), some concepts and metaphors rooted in the theory of ecosystems are further studied in the second presentation. Like in biological systems, we may find energy flows, boundaries, material, communication, diversity of species or organisms, nested systems, ecological niches etc. Social systems and human practices are interconnected and interdependent like biological organisms and systems. Some of these concepts are further examined through a concept analysis based on a literature review (Madsen, Svenkerud, Ballangrud & Strande). The third paper of Part 1 (Shanks, Attard Tonna & Calleja) explores ecosystems of teacher learning in Malta and in Scotland from a more empirical perspective. This presentation introduces social ecosystems which provide different tools and opportunities for professional growth for different groups of teachers, and how ecosystems are developed.
Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development: Experiments by nature and design. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Capra, F. & Jakobsen, (2017). A Conceptual Framework for Ecological Economics Based on Systemic Principles of Life. International Journal of Social Economics, Vol. 44, No. 6, pp. 831-844. http://www.fritjofcapra.net/a-conceptual-framework-for-ecological-economics-based-on-systemic-principles-of-life/ Capra, F. (2005) “Speaking Nature's Language: Principles for Sustainability”. In M. K. Stone and Z. Barlow. (Eds.) Ecological Literacy: Educating Our Children for a Sustainable World (pp. 18–29). San Francisco, CA:Sierra Club Books. Kemmis, S. & Heikkinen, H. (2012). Future perspectives: Peer-Group Mentoring and international practices for teacher development. In: H. Heikkinen, H. Jokinen & P. Tynjälä (Eds.) Peer-Group Mentoring for Teacher Development. Milton Park: Routledge, 144-170. Kemmis, S., Edwards-Groves, C., Wilkinson, J., & Hardy, I. (2012). Ecologies of practices. In P. Hager, A. Lee, & A. Reich (Eds.), Learning and practice. Singapore: Springer. Luhmann, N., Baecker, D., & Gilgen, P. (2013). Introduction to systems theory. Cambridge: Polity. Moore, J. (1993). Predators and prey: A new ecology of competition. Harward Business Review, May-June 1993, 75 - 86. Wittgenstein, L. (1953). Philosophical Investigations. (G. E. M. Anscombe Trans.). Oxford: Basil Blackwell. Zhao, Y., Lei, J., & Frank, K. A. (2006). The social life of technology: An ecological analysis of technology diffusion in schools. Pedagogies, 1(2), 135-149.
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