Mentoring and the development of educators in South African Technical and Vocational Education

Van der Bijl, Andre James (2015-03)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: A perennial challenge facing public technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges in South Africa is that the majority of staff, while technically qualified to do the work that forms the contents of what they teach, are either not professionally qualified educators, or are professionally qualified as educators in other educational sectors. For TVET lecturers, the development of their teaching skills, like their professional identity, relies primarily on informal development by line managers, other members of staff or themselves. This study examines how professionally underqualified lecturers employed at TVET colleges in the Western Cape develop their teaching skills, inter alia, by being mentored by managers, experienced members of staff or themselves by asking the question: in what ways do mentoring processes within a college contribute to the incorporation of staff into a college?. Flowing from the primary research question this study sought to identify the nature and forms of institutional level mentoring, as well as the related use of language and power. This study is framed within the critical paradigm, applying a methodological framework developed by Fairclough (2010) and a combination of methods of analysis. At a micro level a form of analysis designed by Fairclough (1989; 2001) is used. The results are classified by means of a Foucauldian-based methodological framework developed by Keevy (2005). Mentoring has become popular as a term to describe informal learning in a wide variety of settings, including business and education. As a result of the popularity of the term, publications on a wide array of aspects related to informal learning have been produced. Periodically, however, criticisms of mentoring have surfaced, which fundamentally challenge its standing as an academic discipline. Such critique prompted this research project: to question whether or not mentoring was, what Fairclough calls a social wrong. Challenging the assumption that mentoring is a social wrong forms a point of departure for this study. A broad analysis of literature about mentoring is presented with the aim of identifying what Foucault calls, its ethical substance. The established ethical substance of mentoring is extrapolated into a schema indicating various broad descriptions of mentoring. The broad descriptions are used in an analysis of mentoring practices in a professional work environment suited to the application of current mentoring practices, one in which has not yet been formally applied in staff induction programmes: namely, public technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges. In addition to challenging the assumption that mentoring is a social wrong, the study, significantly, the neo-liberal notion that mentees are passive recipients of knowledge. Findings from this study indicate, significantly, that new lecturers develop themselves as lecturers by unconsciously using mentoring methodologies, in the absence of formal mentoring programmes. In contrast to many international institutions, where mentoring programmes are mandatory, the lecturers interviewed in this study were not constrained by the managerialist ideology of neo-liberalism and were empowered by the mentoring with which they were involved. This study provides insights into how professional mentees learn, who they learn from and how they use what they have learnt in their own development, and how this contributes towards an understanding of the nature of adult learning in the workplace. Literature reviewed in this study includes a wide range of publications on the topic of mentoring, including education publications, business management publication and translations of the two original texts on the subject, namely Homer’s Odyssey and Fenelon’s Adventures of Telemachus. Key educational publications consulted include the translated works of Plato and Freire. Publications on social critique include the works of Fairclough and Foucault.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die kwessie rakende personeel wat tegnies gekwalifiseerd is om die werk, wat die vakinhoud van hulle lesings vorm, te doen, maar wat nie professionele onderwysopleiding het nie of in ander opvoedingsvelde gekwalifiseer is, is ’n uitdaging waarmee tegnies en beroepsgerigte onderwys en opleiding (TVET/TBOO) colleges voortdurend te kampe het. Hierdie dosente steun grotendeels op hulself, lyn bestuurders of ander personeellede om hulle onderwysvaardighede op ’n informele wyse te ontwikkel. Hierdie studie ondersoek die maniere waarop dosente met onvoldoende professionele kwalifikasies by (TVET/TBOO) colleges in die Wes-Kaap hulle eie vaardighede ontwikkel deur onder meer die mentorskap van bestuurders en ervare personeellede. Dit word gedoen aan die hand van die volgende vraag: “Op watter wyses dra prosesse van mentorskap binne ’n kollege by tot die inkoporering van personeel.” Hierdie studie poog om, na aanleiding van die primêre navorsingsvraag, die aard en vorm van mentorskap op die institusionele vlak te identifiseer sowel as die meegaande gebruik van taal en gesag. Hierdie studie is benader vanuit die kritiese paradigma met die toepassing van ’n metodologiese raamwerk soos ontwikkel deur Fairclough (2010) tesame met ’n kombinasie van analitiese metodes. ’n Metode van analise wat Fairclough (1989; 2001) ontwikkel het, is op ’n mikrovlak toegepas en die resultate is daarna geklassifiseer met Keevy (2005) se Foucault-gebasseerde metodologiese raamwerk. Mentorskap word wyd gebruik as ’n omvattende begrip om informele leer in diverse kontekste aan te dui. Dit sluit die sakewêreld en onderwys in. Die gewildheid van die begrip het ’n wye verskeidenheid publikasies betreffende informele leer tot gevolg gehad. Daar is egter deurentyd kritiek op mentorskap wat die fundamentele waarde daarvan bevraagteken. Dit is hierdie kritiek wat die navorser genoop het om te vra of mentorskap wel ’n “maatskaplike wandaad” is soos wat Fairclough dit noem. Die vertrekpunt van hierdie studie is die veronderstelling dat dit wel so is. ’n Oorsigtelike analise van literatuur betreffende mentorskap word voorgelê met die doel om dit wat Foucault die “etiese substans” noem, te identifiseer. Die bepaalde etiese substans van mentorskap word geëkstrapoleer tot ’n skema wat verskeie breë definisies van mentorskap aandui. Hierdie breë definisies word dan gebruik in ’n ontleding van mentorskap in ’n professionele werksomgewing, wat geskik is vir die toepassing van bestaande mentorpraktyke, maar waar dit nog nie formeel in personeelinduksieprogramme ingesluit is nie: naamlik (TVET/TBOO) colleges. Hierdie studie bevraagteken nie net die aanname dat mentorskap ’n maatskaplike wandaad is nie, maar ook die neo-liberale siening dat diegene wat gementor word die ontvangers van kennis is en dui daarop dat nuwe dosente hulself ontwikkel, weens ’n gebrek aan formele mentorprogramme, deur die onbewuste gebruik van mentormetodes. In teenstelling met baie internasionale instellings waar mentorprogramme verpligtend is, is die dosente met wie daar onderhoude gevoer is nie aan bande gelê deur neo-liberale bestuursideologieë nie en is bemagtig deur die mentorskap waarin hulle betrokke was. Die studie gee insigte in hoe professionele persone wat mentorskap ontvang, leer, van wie hulle leer, hoe hulle dit wat hulle leer in hulle eie ontwikkeling toepas en hoe dit bydra tot ’n begrip van die aard van volwasse leer in die werkplek. Die literatuur wat in hierdie studie geraadpleeg word, sluit ’n wye spektrum van publikasies oor die vakgebied van mentorskap in. Dit is onder meer onderwys- en sakebestuurpublikasies sowel as vertalings van twee oorspronklike geskrifte rakende die onderwerp, by name Homeros se Odusseia en Fénelon se Avonture van Telemachus. Die vertaalde werke van Plato en Freire is onder die opvoedkundige sleutelbronne wat geraadpleeg is en bronne oor maatskaplike kritiek sluit die werke van Fairclough en Foucault in.

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