Mentoring is a thought and a practice that has developed over time in diverse cultures as well as contexts. Natural mentoring takes place incidentally in various life settings through teaching, friendship, coaching and counseling. ‘Planned’ mentoring involves prepared programmes with clear objectives, where mentors and mentees are matched using formal processes. It is predictable; consequently, that today there is significant confusion over its meaning.
A Scottish study by Philip and Hendry (2000) examined natural mentoring relationships using a wide sample of young people as well as adults. Five types of natural mentoring relationship were recognized:
• Individual-team mentoring
• Classic mentoring
• Friend-to-friend mentoring
• Long-term relationship mentoring
• Peer-group mentoring (pp 216-17).
Philip (2000) concludes that natural mentoring can occur within a broad range of relationships and that it takes on greater significance on occasion of crisis or as the relationships grows. Distinctiveness of natural mentoring was the common benefits, and the equality of power between mentors as well as mentees.
Teachers find that they have given up some of their independence. There are lots of other people with an interest in young people’s learning in the school repeatedly. Teachers discover that they are no longer alone in discussions concerning teaching and learning. Peer tutors as well as mentors strengthen learning and support homework. Specialist mentors from business, particular employment sectors as well as the university augment the course. Higher education students lift the aspirations of students to attend university. These people reveal the national diversity of the local population and bring lots of more role models into the school. Adult volunteers take after-school clubs, which decreases the demands on teachers’ time (Cruddas, 2005).
Senior citizens as well as people from minority racial communities feel welcome and appreciated by the school staff as well as students. They have a part in offering their experience to assist students in need of adult support. Bonds are built up between older people working in the school as well as between minorities. Intergenerational bonds are formed and informal groups of mentor friends build up. Mentoring serves as a uniting mechanism to comprise all types of people in the school community. In these ways the social capital of the local community is improved. Volunteers work in teams to direct external mentoring and make the teachers’ work easier.
It is as well true that the actions of government and schools can challenge the move towards a mentoring society. Government funding cuts borne out of decline or a change of administration can eliminate the infrastructure required to sustain the ‘dedication’. Support for volunteering in addition to the voluntary sector organizations that administer mentoring programmes needs to be sustained. The propensity of government to fund pilots or offer annual funding makes it complex to put up the kinds of sustained partnerships as well as programmes that are essential. Schools too can undermine the progress of a mentoring culture.
School decision makers are at times unenthusiastic to open the school up to the neighboring community. Teachers can be doubtful of what might be supposed as unprofessional people and do-gooders interfering with the professional business of education. Teacher deficiency and the overloaded curriculum make it more prone that teachers will perceive mentoring as one more idea that they can do without. School mentoring coordinators may be provided insufficient time or support to do the job appropriately, and mentors can experience let down as a result. In such state of affairs, companies may start to remove support as school-based programmes achieve a bad name.
Despite all these possible obstructions, mentoring has achieved a lot of support from among the army of mentors as well as mentees, who are both current and future voters, in addition to users of the education system. There are also hopeful signs that governments have seen the profit of mentoring and the likely advantages of a move towards the mentoring society.
Philip, K and Hendry, L B (2000). Making sense of mentoring or mentoring making sense? Reflections on the mentoring process by adult mentors with young people, Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 10, pp 211-23
Philip, K (2000). Mentoring: pitfalls and potential for young people, Youth and Policy, 67, pp1-15
Cruddas, L. (2005). Learning Mentors in Schools policy and practice, Trentham Books