01 SES 11 A, Mentoring of New Teachers in the Nordic Countries: Practices of professional learning as ecosystems. Part 1.
Symposium to be continued in 01 SES 12 A
The aim of this symposium is twofold. (1.) Theoretically, to develop the theory of ecologies of practices in the context of professional learning and development (2.) Empirically, to introduce historical perspectives to Nordic practices of mentoring newly qualified teachers in the beginning of 21st Century in Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden and to analyze them by applying ecological principles.
Theoretically, the approach is rooted in the theory of ecologies of practices developed by Stephen Kemmis and his colleagues and the ecological principles introduced by Fritjof Capra. From that perspective, practices are understood as living entities which interrelate with one another like living organisms in the nature. The chosen perspective presupposes that the human social practices are ontologically embedded in ecosystems. This ontological view has been chrystallized by 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).’ Like in the ecosystems of nature, social practices co-exist interdependently to each other and to other living organisms.
An ecosystemic approach to education may be applied from a variety of perspectives. Traditionally one of the best known ecosystem theories on the field of education is the ‘Ecological Systems Theory’, introduced in the 1970’s by Urie Bronfenbrenner, which explains how human development is influenced by different types of environmental systems. This view has lately lost its central position in educational research literature. Instead, the concepts of business ecosystems, innovation ecosystems and digital ecosystems have been applied to education. This turn has been criticized of neoliberal views which reduce education as a subsystem of economy. The idea of business ecosystems is based on a struggle for survival between competitors in an ecosystem. This assumption leads us into difficult ontological presuppositions about the nature of education. What if we understand education in a similar way; an eternal battle of natural selection.
From one perspective, the change into ecosystemic thinking can be seen as a shift from learning organizations to ecosystems. The strength of ecosystems’ discourse is to enable picturing multiplaced, collaborative organisatory networks. However, the special characteristics of human collaboration across institutional boundaries deserve to be taken into account. These characteristics include culture, traditions, norms and cognitive categories.
The theoretical perspectives are briefly introduced in the first presentation. The next presentations offer six historical-narrative perspectives to mentoring in the Nordic countries. The narratives are brought about collaboratively by experts of the field (teacher educators, researchers and teacher union representatives) who have personally experienced the development of mentoring in their country during the last 15 years. The empirical analysis of these narratives will be based on a focus group discussion. The narratives will be analysed by applying an ‘analysis of narratives’ (Polkinghorne 1998; Heikkinen 2002) which refers to a deductive approach to narrative inquiry. In this analysis, we will apply the ecological principles, derived from the theory of ecosystems of practices (Capra 2005; Kemmis & Heikkinen 2012). At the end of the symposium, all the narratives will be analyzed by focusing on the concepts of (1.) ecological niche and (2.) ecological resilience.
Given that there are 8 presentations in this symposium, the proposal is handed in as two parts, and it is indicated in the title that they belong together.
Capra, F. (2005). Speaking nature’s language: Principles for sustainibility. In M. K. Stone & Z. Barlow (Eds.), Ecological literacy: Educating our children for a sustainable world (pp. 18–29). San Fransisco: 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, 33-49. Mäkelä-Marttinen, L., Hartikainen, N., Grönlund, C. & Tynjälä, P. (2013). Kasvun voimaa Oppimisen ja osaamisen ekosysteemissä: Learning and Competence Creating Ecosystem - LCCE®. Kouvola: Kymenlaakson ammattikorkeakoulu. Oksanen, K., & Hautamäki, A. (2014). Transforming regions into innovation ecosystems: A model for renewing local industrial structures. The Innovation Journal, 19(2), 1-16. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/1629577292?accountid=11774 Pelli, R. & Ruohonen, S. (2011). Oppimisen ja osaamisen ekosysteemi: Learning and Competence Creating Ecosystem LCCE. Kotka: Kymenlaakson Ammattikorkeakoulu. Ruohonen, S. & Mäkelä-Marttinen, L. (2009). Kohti oppimisen ja osaamisen ekosysteemiä: Learning and Competence Creating Ecosystem - LCCE. Kouvola: Kymenlaakson ammattikorkeakoulu.
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