Ah, Sarah, what do you mean by 'theory'?
For me, theory is a mental model, of human construction, that helps me
understand and explain my world, it is a 'big picture'. A good theory
manages to explain more than a poor theory. A good theory allows me to
predict what might happen next, and means that I am less caught out by
I suspect that all action is driven by 'theory', it is what I have learned
by trial and error, it is another way of talking about my expectations of
agency and effectiveness. Whether a person can explicate - make that
theory explicit - is another matter. One way that I begin to explicate my
theory is to measure my understanding up against another's theory. Does
their theory helpfully explain my experience, if so then I can use their
conceptualising too. If I find another's theory allows me to understand,
and then explain, and gives me the wherewithal to predict, then I would be
inclined to say that this other's theory might influence my activity (say
mentoring) and especially if it took me safely in to new areas, ie beyond my
present comfort levels in taking action. I am using Argyris & Schon's
Model-I and Model-II in such a way. I am still trying to comprehend how
Heron speaks of the connections of affect-imaginal-conceptual-practical as a
tool for understanding my world.
Argyris, C., & Schon, D. A. (1974). Theory in practice. San Francisco:
Argyris, C. (1993). Knowledge for Action: A Guide to Overcoming Barriers to
Organizational Change. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.
Heron, J. (1999). The Complete Facilitator's Handbook. London: Kogan Page.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Sarah Fletcher" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Friday, October 12, 2007 5:41 AM
Subject: Re: What influences a mentor's practice?
How far is theory as an explicit driver in mentoring? Fascinating question!
How far do mentors create their own theories without explicit reference to
others' theories as they explore their own learning? How far do others'
theories of mentoring influence mentors' own theorising as they reflect?