A3 Book section, Chapters in research books
Understanding Mentoring Within an Ecosystem of Practices (2020)

Heikkinen, H. L. T. (2020). Understanding Mentoring Within an Ecosystem of Practices. In K.-R. Olsen, E. M. Bjerkhot, & H. L. T. Heikkinen (Eds.), New Teachers in Nordic Countries : Ecologies of Mentoring and Induction (pp. 27-47). Cappelen Damm. https://doi.org/10.23865/noasp.105.ch1

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Heikkinen, Hannu L. T.

Parent publication: New Teachers in Nordic Countries : Ecologies of Mentoring and Induction

Parent publication editors: Olsen, Knut-Rune; Bjerkhot, Eva M.; Heikkinen, Hannu L. T.

ISBN: 978-82-02-69240-7

eISBN: 978-82-02-66527-2

Publication year: 2020

Pages range: 27-47

Number of pages in the book: 202

Publisher: Cappelen Damm

Place of Publication: Oslo

Publication country: Norway

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.23865/noasp.105.ch1

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Open Access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/72121


The aim of this article is to introduce an ecosystemic approach to mentoring, inspired by the theory of ecologies of practices (Kemmis, Edwards-Groves, Wilkinson, & Hardy, 2012). It is suggested that relationships between practices
and their environment resemble in many ways the relationships between natural organisms and ecosystems. From this perspective, mentoring is understood as a social practice that exists in the midst of other social practices and derives its essential qualities and its existence from its relation to other practices. The theory of ecologies of practices is based on the conception of practices as ‘living entities’. From the perspective of ecologies of practice, practices of mentoring and induction can be regarded as ecosystems of their own within the wider ecosystems of social, political and educational practices. In the research literature, the concept of ecosystem has been represented in a number of different variations. The concept was first introduced in education research by the developmental psychologist Urie
Bronfenbrenner (1979), who described human development and socialisation in terms of nested circles of varying sizes. Lately, the ecosystem concept has also been used in the context of learning in ways that have been influenced by research in the fields of economics, business and information technology. The theory of ecologies of practices is rooted in an ontological understanding of the importance of learning for human existence: the human species exists as part of the natural ecosystem and, consequently, social practices are based on how the species acts to survive and thrive in the ecosystem. Based on these assumptions, ten ecological principles are introduced and applied to practices of mentoring: (1) networks, (2) nested systems, (3) niches, (4) interdependence, (5) diversity, (6) cycles, (7) flows, (8) development, (9) dynamic balance, and (10) resilience. Finally, some limitations and criticisms of the ecosystem approach are reflected upon.

Keywords: learning; mentoring; familiarisation; interaction; social interaction; learning environment

Free keywords: oppimisen ekosysteemit

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2020

JUFO rating: 1

Last updated on 2021-09-08 at 16:17