HEAD NECK CANCER - A learning journey
Peter Drucker called her the 'prophet of management' and 'my guru'. Mary Parker Follett (1868-1933), also had some refreshing points to make about teaching as leading in 'The teacher-student relation', in an address at Boston university, 1928, and published in Administrative Science Quarterly 15 (1) 1970, pp.137-148.
She reminds us that the teacher 'releases energy, frees potentialities,'but within method, within the laws of group activity and group control.'
The teacher's role in the social sciences is to teach students to become 'experience-conscious'; to see the meaning of the experience, and to organise that experience. To integrate knowledge with experience is to create power of control, so that students may 'perhaps create new meanings.' The aim is to increase the students' 'ability to live not only harmoniously but effectively' with others.
'All that lives grows. What we give our students, if it is alive, may easily grow out of our recognition.' She acknowledges that we are preparing our students to deal with a future that will be so different from the past, yet we use old language and categories taht can barely explain the present. 'In so many places our language has not caught up with what we are actually doing, and the pity of this is that over and over again we are kept back within the boundaries of our language.'
Every day, we must win our leadership, whatever it is we are doing, or we lose it.
In her book Creative Experience (1924) she asserts that 'a dynamic psychology gives us instead of equivalents, plusvalents. It is those we must look for in every situation...progressive experience on every level means the creating of plusvalents.' (p.50).
You may find it difficult to find 'plusvalents' in a dictionary. But if equivalent refers to equal, similar or identical values; then plusvalent suggests a gaining more, an additive or integrative value. I like this idea, the idea of increasing power with others, rather than power-over, or transferring power or a 'balance of power'. Follett calls 'transferring power' as a 'puss-in-the-corner game' (p.vi). 'Genuine power can only be grown...genuine power is not coercive control, but coactive control. Coercive power is the curse of the universe; coactive power, the enrichment and advancement of every human soul.' (pvii).
Because facts do not remain stationary, and experts can differ about the same set of facts, we should not blindly accept the findings of the expert. We need to learn how to unite experience with experience in a social process in order to make progress. 'Unity, not uniformity.'
I wish I had met the work of Mary Parker Follett much earlier in my life. But now that I have, I will not let her go easily. I am hungry to read more and to share her throughts with students and colleagues in our quest for transforming teaching and learning. For more, see the Mary Parker Follett Network site at www.mpfollett.ning.com
As a gentle provocateur of positive change,