Mentoring/Research Philosophy :

“For things to reveal themselves to us, we need to be ready to abandon our views about them.”  - Thich Nhat Hanh, Being Peace

"The New Intellectuals will be those who will take the initiative and the responsibility; they will check their own philosophical premises, identify their convictions, integrate their ideas into coherence and consistency, then offer to the country a view of existence to which the wise and honest can repair" (Rand, 1961, p. 51). In line with Ayn Rand’s (1961) philosophical thought, I value thinking that can be transformed into action. For me, the value of dissertation research is in promoting social change for a wide array of stakeholders. I bring creativity, ecological theory, Socratic dialogue, as well as mindful meditation practices to the mentoring table. 

I strongly value creativity being an artist, writer, and dancer. “The creative process is a way of fulfilling the longing or search for a new object or state of experience or existence that is not easily found or attained” (Arieti, 1976, p. 6). My own research efforts have focused on the effectiveness and use of the creative therapies to promote healing and elevate self-esteem (Brooke, 1995; 1997; 2007). My use of art parallels that of Jung (1966) who was a novice who use art to promote awareness and insight. I often take these creative approaches to mentoring dissertation researchers to illustrate the problem space and the use of theory in their work. 

The ecological model, the major proponent of Bronfenbrenner’s (1979) work, seeks to explain individual knowledge, development, and competencies in terms of the guidance, support, and structure provided by society and to explain social change over time in terms of the cumulative effect of individual choices. In order to bring about particular change, I use this theoretical model to promote effective strategies for mentoring to move the learner from novice researcher to expert methodologist as well as content expert.  As a mentor, I help novice researchers discover the gap in the literature, address a problem or unique phenomenon under study in a rigorous, scientific fashion that promotes the rigor credibility of their work. Additionally, it is my hope that learners can close the research gap, attempt to solve the problem by contributing to the professional literature in their field, and promote social change with the results of their work. 

My role as a dissertation mentor is to help learners take what is not yet known and transform that into efforts that can be utilized in real life settings.  I engage learners in critical dialogue and as Friere (1971) notes, “true dialog cannot exist unless the dailoguers engage in critical thinking – thinking which discerns an individual solidarity between them – thinking which perceives reality as process, as transformation, rather than as a static entity – thinking which does not separate itself from action, but constantly immerses itself in temporality without fear of the risks involved” (pp. 80-81). We co-create the dissertation journey. As a mentor, I am invested in learners's progress so I encourage the publication and presentation their work so that they can become social change agents for their field. Mentoring is a spiritual practice for me and is guided by practicing mindful meditation practice. Sharing meditation quotes and strategies often inspires learners to continue on their dissertation journey as well as manage anxiety that comes with the process. I consider it a great honor to guide a learner's dissertation research and often continue my mentoring relationships well after graduation. 

References

Arieti, S. (1976). Creativity: The magic synthesis. Basic Books.

Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development. Harvard University Press.

Brooke, S.L. (1995). Art expression with sexual abuse survivors. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 22(5), p. 447-466.

Brooke, S.L. (1997). Healing through art: Art therapy with sexual abuse survivors. Charles C. Thomas Publishers.

Brooke, S.L. (2007). The use of the creative therapies with sexual abuse survivors. Charles C. Thomas Publishers.

Friere, P. (1971). Pedagogy of the oppressed. Herder and Herder.

Jung, C.G. (1966). The spirit in man, art, and literature. Princeton University Press.

Rand, A. (1961). For the new intellectual. Signet.

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