We now examine the role of academic supervision in developing reflective learning. We begin with a brief resume of available meanings of supervision, then we explore the historical roots of supervision, identifying three sources of modern practice. We draw on generic characteristics from each model to inform our approach to reflective dialogue in academic supervision, a facilitative approach we have called 'metavision'. We include two stories of supervision which readers may like to compare with good practice. Finally, we offer some ideas for academic supervisors and a structure for individual and group supervision.
Supervision has been called the 'impossible' profession (Zinkin, 1989), mainly because of the struggle for practitioners to agree on a common understanding of what supervision is. Many begin with variations of the word itself, citing 'super' vision as suggestive of overseeing and management; 'extra' vision as descriptive of a broadening process; or 'consultative' supervision as a more egalitarian activity.
Hawkins and Shohet give us a definition, in the context of the helping professions (given as social work, health service, public services and teaching):
a quintessential, interpersonal interaction with the general goal that
one person, the supervisor, meets with another, the supervisee, in an
effort to make the latter more effective.
(Hess, 1980, quoted in Hawkins and Shohet, 1989: 41)
Are academics members of a 'helping profession'? If facilitating learning is 'helping' then we base this chapter on that assumption. Committed