Wisdom from a Respected Elder… Ellie Vaines told me that home economists cannot empower anyone… we CAN facilitate a process by which people find their own inner voice, strength and conviction. I now call this Me-power (empower). Ellie wants us to work to find our own inner voices, too, to choose an empowerment orientation to practice.
Me-Power The more home economists we have who are individually empowered, the more likely we are to collectively develop empowered organizations, Communities, and our profession.
Profession-wide Individual Empowerment “If I can help you find your own power base, that found power is yours, not mine.” “Power revealed is power gained.”
Three Orientations to Being a Home Economist (Vaines, 1993) Technical Orientation Power-over - competition, efficiency, consumption, technological progress, economic growth, scarcity mentality, empirical science, expert, fragmented, management-focused practice
Choose no orientation Powerless practice from individualized interpretations of the field (dance to our own tune) with no common, accepted belief system informed by scholarship and reflective dialogue
Empowerment Orientation Shared power (with and through people) via networking, interconnections, living and evolving systems, self-formation, common good (human condition), transformative leadership and education, sustainability, effectiveness, efficacy, moral vision of daily life, embrace change, many ways of knowing, collaboration, dialogue, reflection, solidarity, participation
A powerful cycle! Mberengwa & van der Merwe, 2004 Finding inner me-power (self-empowerment) creates personal power This newly found inner power releases the power of self-cure, to help you gain control over your professional life This professional-life power leads to a more potent sense of professional self and efficacy A powerful sense of your professional-self prompts you to strive for deeper, critical understandings of social and political power relationships at play in society Nurturing and releasing inner me-power eventually becomes a natural part of your professional life - second nature!
Defining EMPOWER Power is Latin for “to be able” Adding the prefix em (Latin for in) gives us empower, which means to gain an ability, the means to do, or an opportunity to do (to invest with being able) Empowerment refers to increasing the spiritual, political, economic and/or social strength of people; it involves people developing confidence in their own capacities
More on empowerment With empowerment comes increased assets to draw upon, and enhanced capacity (abilities) Via increased access to resources and control over their lives, people gain the ability to strive for, even achieve, their highest potential, and collective aspirations People are better able to make purposive choices and transform those choices into desired actions and outcomes because they have found inner confidence, gained outer acknowledgement, and now exercise influence over others, institutions or society
Me-Power requires: Professional socialization Communities of Practice Self-efficacy Becoming a social change agent Personal transformation and paradigm shifts Being an expert novice and integral specialist
Professional Socialization Entrench empowerment orientation into our professional culture and university experiences to form and inform our professional identity Ensure that each person has a chance to learn, critically examine and internalize HEC beliefs, values and attitudes, leading to a commitment to the profession. One such commitment is that of ongoing intellectual engagement with the ideas of power, change, efficacy, consciousness, and making a moral difference
Choosing to value a commitment to ongoing personal empowerment lessens the chance that we dance to our own individual tune, leading society to perceive our home economics’ collective as powerless, and not legitimate. Collective practitioner autonomy in exercising professional judgements is enhanced with me-power, leading to public perceptions of empowered practitioners working from a common belief system (dance together)
Communities of Practice (CoP) Professional socialization requires conversations with each other, especially in communities of practice CoPs involve a special kind of conversation, intending to push,even break, personal and professional boundaries, leading to empowered practice for the good of humanity Intent of CoP is to steward a particular aspect of practice valued by the profession,in this case, gaining inner power and voice leading to self-efficacy as change agents for humanity
With intrapersonal me-power: Self Blame Self-efficacy (belief you can make a difference by acting in a certain way)
Informing Self-efficacy: Self-Reflection Analyze experiences Think about thought processes Alter thinking… Alter actions Self-Regulation Keep tabs on professional behaviour by thinking before you act, applying a moral compass to these thoughts
CHANGE AGENT An empowered home economist is a positive force to be reckoned with – a CHANGE AGENT Someone who deliberately tries to bring about change or innovation, OR whose actions result in change. Conscious architects of events – they exert power and influence for desired political and social ends (the human condition)
Being a change agent requires: Self-knowledge of inner self – awareness of baggage and paradigms (biases, perceptions, values, limitations, beliefs, assumptions, motives, expectations) Initiative to think outside the box, break bottlenecks, reframe setbacks as opportunities Using that self- knowledge and initiative to help others enhance their self- esteem, efficacy and autonomy to take control of their lives and challenge power bases and societal arrangements that marginalize and exploit them – help them gain fortitude to stay with the cause
Transformation and paradigm shifts Finding your inner voice means changing how you know yourself (transforming). Changing who you are inside changes how you practice outside (e.g., “we teach who we are”) Parker Palmer All this change comes with a price, because finding your me-power usually involves a world-view or paradigm shift.
When you change paradigms, you end up seeing the world through totally news glasses (lens), and can never go back to the way you were (nor do you want to). This clarity of inner vision (me-power) removes self-doubt, replacing it with conviction, integrity, and the ability to deal with uncertainty and risk.
This personal, inner transformation makes it easier to build a platform of principles and professional philosophy upon which to stand (or sit ) as you practice… Principles, paradigms and professional philosophy I’m sitting on my me-power base!
In summary….me-power requires that you: Purposively choose an empowerment orientation to practice Seek or arrange for professional socialization experiences that empower you Create and participate in me-power communities of practice Work hard on building self-efficacy Eagerly become a change agent Intentionally strive for personal transformation and paradigm shifts (or paradigm clarification), despite the angst
RESULT….. You are a stronger, wiser, philosophically- well home economist, secure in your own inner power, and your own professional voice. This entails learning to be an expert-novice, an expert at learning new things and knowing when to let old ways go by the wayside. If the world is changing, you have to change, too! You can better do this if you are secure in who you are (you have me-power) Donna Pendergast gave us expert-novice
With this new inner power you can now consider a new definition of specialization – be an integral specialist With inner power, you can choose to see home economics as holistic (rather than a collection of individual experts in specializations, separate subjects and content areas). With this choice, you would “need expertise that integrates, links bridges, coordinates and communicates.” Kaija Turki gives us a new kind of specialist.
Finding me-power is part of your ongoing professional journey – a path you follow, a process. Home economists have been on a 100-year journey, traveling for over 365,000 days to get to their current professional crossroads – CONVERGENT MOMENT! Are you tired from this journey? Is your inner power fading (feel lost, tired, weary, frustrated, unappreciated)? Ready to choose an empowerment orientation to your practice? Ready for some new energy??!!
Your fellow home economists have come up with many leading edge ideas about the possible make- up of your 21 st century me-power base:
Over the past 100 years, as we watched families face wider and deeper challenges, we worked harder but not necessarily smarter, and not necessarily from a deep well of inner power (we drew on old and familiar paradigms as we journeyed to meet today at this proverbial crossroads). For some of us, our inner power diminished along the way and we lost confidence – our social agency and political influence declined, too BUT…. This can change if we change the way we know ourselves as home economists – choose a different path at the crossroads. The old ways are not wrong… just not enough any more. The new path requires profession-wide, empowered individual home economists –
And, read out loud with me, with pride, …. “I am strong. I stand within my me-power and gather energy, ideas and people around me. I am a pioneer, working on the edge, having fun while I do it. Families, communities, the human condition and the planet matter; hence, home economists matter. From our new, world- wide me-power base, we can help others become energized, focused, relentless change agents for the good of humanity, through stronger homes and families.”