There’s no shortage of advice or self-help guidance in our interconnected age. The Internet is teeming with life-hacks and ‘pro tips’. And yet, these innovations are no replacement for the caring, supportive mentor.
From Socrates and Plato to Maya Angelou and Oprah Winfrey, history reveals the value of people who encourage and educate with enthusiasm. This social fact is increasingly operationalised in professional life, as junior members of a team often learn the ropes from a senior mentor. For young people at critical junctures in their lives, the role of the mentor holds even greater promise. The benefits are broadly personal, academic, and professional.
Promoting Personal Growth
Interpersonal and ‘life’ skills are essential assets for the twenty-first century learner. Whatever academic or professional path a young person chooses, these skills are their compass. Mentoring helps young people hone their ability to communicate, collaborate, create, be confident and become conscious citizens. It’s been shown to promote emotional adjustment, psychological well-being, and positive self-image.
Crucially, mentors come in all shapes and sizes. The role can be performed in the perfect-fit context for the learner. Sports coaches, academic specialists and art instructors have an equal opportunity to challenge students to express their creativity or grow in self-esteem.
How can educators ensure they’re up to the task? At its core, mentoring relies on taking a non-judgemental approach to supporting learners towards a mutually agreed set of objectives. This hinges on gaining an understanding of the mentee through actively listening to their challenges and goals. There are neuroscientific benefits to feeling understood – it activates neural regions associated with reward and social connection. This has deep, long-lasting benefits for the development of young people.
Accelerating Academic Achievements
Youth mentoring programs improve academic outcomes. What’s more, the impact of academic mentoring is long-lasting – particularly for learners with ongoing challenges at school.
These improved outcomes aren’t limited to grades either. Mentors are well-placed to equip learners with learning, innovation and information skills for the future. The mentor-mentee relationship lends itself to promoting the ability to think critically and innovatively, solve complex problems, and support information/media literacy. For instance, the one-to-one study setting at Feynman Education is a supportive environment in which learners feel confident enough to be bold, make mistakes, and learn from constructive feedback.
Clarity on Careers
There’s a strong association between youth mentoring programs and career outcomes. Mentors with an understanding of their mentee and knowledge of the working world strengthens the accuracy and value of their university and career recommendations.
Students nearing the end of high school are expected to have an answer to the life-defining question: ‘what should I do and where should I do it?’. Whether directed at university courses or careers, this almost existential question requires guidance and support tailor-made for the individual.
Finding the best-fit mentor relationship
Fortunately, mentorship relationships are solely focused on the growth and accomplishment of the individual. Ultimately, the potential for maximising these psychological, academic and professional benefits rely on a perfect-fit mentor relationship. For help with this important task, speak with your learner’s teachers, coaches, or academic specialists at Feynman Education.