01 SES 07 A, Sustainable Ecosystems of Mentoring for Newly Qualified Teachers
The aim of the first presentation of the symposium is to (1.) present a brief history of the Nordic mentoring network (2.) discuss mentoring in light of concepts based on the theory of ecologies of practice. Our premise is that mentoring is a social practice and therefore the conceptual tools of practice theory can be applied to research on mentoring. In this case, the theory of ecologies of practices is applied. From the perspective ecosystems of practices, practices of teacher induction and mentoring are understood as living entities which interrelate with one another like living organisms in the nature. Like organisms in the nature, social practices exist, are formed and reformed and acquire their characteristics in relation to other social practices. In other words, social practices exist within a ‘network of practices’. Sometimes a particular practice is part of a larger practice whereby their relationship can be seen as ‘nested systems’ where practices are located within wider practices or ‘metapractices’. The chosen perspective presupposes that even the human social practices are ontologically embedded in ecosystems (Kemmis & Heikkinen 2012). 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).” Like in the ecosystems of nature, social practices co-exist interdependently to each other and to other living organisms. 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. An important feature for the sustainability of the ecosystem is its ‘ecological resilience’ which refers to the amount of disturbance that an ecosystem could withstand without changing self-organized processes and structures (Gunderson 2000). In other words, resilient mentoring practices are supported by conditions and other practices in the respective ecological niche. (Virolainen, Heikkinen, Laitinen-Väänänen & Rautopuro 2020.)
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. Olsen, K.-N., Bjerkholt, E. & Heikkinen, H. (Eds.) (2020). New Teachers in Nordic Countries: Ecologies of Induction and Mentoring. Oslo: Kappelen Damm Akademisk. Tynjälä, P., Pennanen, M., Markkanen, I. & Heikkinen, H. (2019). Finnish Model of Peer-Group Mentoring: Review of Research. Annals of New York Academy of Sciences; special issue “Mentoring: Theoretical Background, Empirical Findings, and Practical Applications.” Virolainen, M., Heikkinen, H., Laitinen-Väänänen, S. & Rautopuro, J. 2020. Ecosystems of learning and adult education: The transformation of learning organizations and their actor networks toward a landscape of ecosystems. SAGE handbook for learning and work. (In press.)
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