As part of the research team at Åbo Akademi University, led by professor Lisbeth Fagerström, Näsman represents a caring science rooted in an ethos of human love and mercy. Näsman’s teaching and research mainly concern the areas of leadership, ethics, and philosophy of science. At the moment, Näsman is waiting for the approval of her application for an associate professorship in social politics at Åbo Akademi University in Vaasa, Finland.
PsychED: What is the source of your interest in educational psychology?
Yvonne Näsman: Educational psychology as a subject is not included in my education to any larger extent. But, as a university teacher and a caring science academic, I am interested in various aspects of what it means to be a human being, a person. Considering a person as an indivisible unity of body, mind and soul, the psychological aspects of human beings are very important.
PsychED: Your featured article proposes a new approach to educational leadership borrowing from "caritative" leadership. Could you help us understand the important but complex notion of "care" that is at the heart of this model?
Yvonne Näsman: Philosophically as well as practically, caring science lies close to nursing science, or the art and science of nursing. When presenting the academic field as ‘caring science’, as for example the Finnish nursing theorist Katie Eriksson does, it is highlighted that caring, or care, is the core of nursing. But care is not limited to nursing.
According to https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/care , ‘care’ as a noun refers to “The provision of what is necessary for the health, welfare, maintenance, and protection of someone or something.” As I see it, education is more or less necessary, and at least good for the health, welfare and protection of human beings. In fact, many various professions can benefit of involving true caring as a basis for their activities. Teachers and school leaders (hopefully) do not just work in order to earn a living, they have an important mission bringing on possibilities for a good, sustainable life for mankind, nature, and the whole world.
As ‘care’ is complex, both as a concept and as a phenomenon, ‘care’ is not necessarily “good” per se. If you, for example, only care about a few people, your caring most likely will not affect a whole school, educational system, or society very largely. In fact, your “caring” might lead to discrimination, or even to acts of violence to those who are not included. This is why it is important to make your basic values visible, for example in schools, so that the headmaster (or other person in charge) can lead his or her personnel in a direction of true care for the students and all the people involved in that particular organization.
PsychED: Many aspects of caritative leadership seem to have Christian roots--for instance, "human love" and "forgiveness". Do you think this approach could have a global appeal, or would it need to be reformulated to fit into different cultural contexts?
Yvonne Näsman: I think that the theory of caritative leadership can have a global appeal. The Christian roots are visible, yes, but the main thoughts are applicable to contexts with other religious or cultural roots as well. Human love is a well-known concept in many religions. If it needs reformulation, that would have to be done by scholars from the cultures in question. But, if the reformulation could not keep the thought of all humans being of the same worth, or the thought of being able to get a new chance when you have done something wrong, then it would not be caritative leadership any more. Of course every country has its legal system, and not everything should be “forgiven” in the way that, for example a teacher who would have abused his or her students, could be forgiven over and over and go on like nothing has happened. Forgiveness does not exclude the righteous use of legal punishment or proper consequences of misbehaviour.
PsychED: You present caritative leadership as a "counterbalance" to the current trend in education. What are some of this current trend's limits (maybe dangers?) according to you?
Yvonne Näsman: In many Western countries, economic interests make school leaders stick to budgets and figures, maybe to the extent that the people they work with and should care about have had to make way for “hard facts” and reduced costs. Important as it is that the educational systems are well financed, the utmost mission or aim of education should not be forgotten. If the leader does not take care of his or her personnel and students, there is a risk that social and health related problems increase, which in addition to the risk of not getting well enough educated citizens, may affect society as a whole in a negative way. Unfortunately, I am not too familiar with educational systems in, for instance Asia or Africa, to comment the current trends in those parts of the world.
Good education and care are not just limited to the economic facts. The main resource for educating and making this world a better place lies within every person. To a great extension, it is a question of attitude.
PsychED: What other areas of educational psychology are you currently interested in?
Yvonne Näsman: For now, I don’t have any ongoing research that could be closely linked to educational psychology. But, everything that deals with communication between human beings is interesting when you work within the area of health and caring.