Mentoring Matters more than Ever today in Education

For everyone of us that succeeds, its because there’s somebody there to show you the way out. The light doesn’t always  necessarily have to be in your family; for me it was teachers and school – Oprah Winfrey

Many of us have read Mahabharata, the Hindu text,where Lord Krishna was Arjun’ s charioteer . He did not participate in the war but steered Arjun towards victory, gently guiding and advising him at every step. This relationship stands as exemplary even today when we talk of mentoring. The word Mentor evolved to mean trusted advisor, friend, teacher and, a wise person. History offers many examples of helpful mentoring relationships: Socrates and Plato,Gandhi and Nehru , Hayden and Beethoven, Freud and Jung . Marc Zuckerberg while talking about his mentor Steve Jobs said “I had a lot of questions for him.” He described how Jobs gave him advice on building a team that was as focused as Zuckerberg was in building “high quality and good things”. When Jobs passed away in the fall of 2011, Zuckerberg posted on his Facebook page, “Steve, thank you for being a mentor and a friend. Thanks for showing that what you build can change the world. I will miss you.” 

Mentoring is a fundamental form of human development where one person invests time, energy and personal know-how in assisting the growth and ability of another person.It is the third most powerful relationship for influencing human behavior (after the family and couple relationships) if it is working (Richard E. Caruso).When questioned about their career trajectories, you’ll find that most successful people credit a mentor or mentors. No one learns in a vacuum. It is people who can absorb the wisdom of others and then, take it forward by becoming mentors themselves  are the ones who set themselves apart.

Why mentoring is important for Students?

Mentoring plays a crucial role in the success of students. A 2009 study of the U.S. Department of Education’s Student Mentoring Program reported statistically significant improvements for mentored students on several outcome measures, including perceived scholastic efficacy, truancy, and absenteeism. Mentored students (compared to a control group) were found to be statistically significantly higher  in several outcomes related to self-esteem and peer support (2008 study of the SMILE program).Apart from students learning  knowledge and skills  from mentors, mentoring also provides professional socialization and personal support to facilitate success in  school and beyond.

In today’s age of rapid changes ,youth need skills of adaptability ,critical thinking and self awareness. Having the right mentors during the academic journey helps in developing these skills successfully .Mentoring benefits students through;

Individualized goal setting –Mentor guides individual student to set short and long term goals through reflection .They develop action plans and learn planning and time management strategies. These skills of goal setting, adaptability and reflection are crucial for success in education, career and life .

Relationship build on trust- The relationship with teacher mentor is built on honesty and trust over time. Mentors become thought partners for students on their academic journey.

Develop self- awareness –personal meetings /sessions with mentors helps students develop self -awareness .They are better able to access their strengths and areas of improvements ,thus ,able to set realistic goals and follow them successfully.

Role of Faculty as Mentors

Teachers as mentors have a very important role to play . If you ask any person to recall on their most significant mentoring experience, they will inevitably describe a special teacher. A teacher who   really connected with them and guided them through the journey of self discovery. Teachers as mentors enhance students growth and development .They help in the professional development of student by passing on knowledge of subjects to improve educational achievement  and help to maximize their education experience. They guide them in their career choices .Faculty mentors also facilitate in the personal development of students , understand their goals in life, encourage them to make wise choices and help them make the transition from school to career. In the process the mentors enrich their own teaching experience and professional development. The faculty mentor  play several roles, including:

  • Motivator: Expresses belief and confidence in students  abilities, and encourages him/her to try new things.
  • Resource: Teaches and advises  on how to make professional contacts, and introduces  to new people, places or ideas.
  • Supporter: Encourages open and honest dialogue, and listens to and responds to students needs.
  • Coach: Helps to develop, and work to achieve, realistic and meaningful goals.

Conclusion

The basis of mentoring is mutual trust, regular contact and conversation and genuine belief in the process. Like any interpersonal relationship, the one between mentor and student  evolves over time, with its share of adjustments. The fact that today’s students come from an increasingly diverse backgrounds may add a layer of complexity, but it’s more likely to enrich the relationship.

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