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Mentoring refers to a developmental relationship between a more experienced mentor and a less experienced partner referred to as a mentee or protégé. Usually - but not necessarily - the mentor/protégé pair will be of the same sex.

The roots of the practice are lost in antiquity. The word itself was inspired by the character of Mentor in Homer's Odyssey. Though the actual Mentor in the story is a somewhat ineffective old man, the goddess Athena takes on his appearance in order to guide young Telemachus in his time of difficulty.

Historically significant systems of mentorship include apprenticing under the medieval guild system, and the discipleship system practiced by both Rabbinical Judaism and the Christian church.

Famous mentor-mentee pairs include

Typology

There are two types of mentoring relationships: formal and informal. Informal relationships develop on their own between partners. Formal mentoring, on the other hand, refers to assigned relationships, often associated with organizational mentoring programs designed to promote employee development.

In well-designed formal mentoring programs, there are program goals, schedules, training (for mentors and mentees), and evaluation.

New-hire mentoring

For example, in some programs, newcomers to the organization (protégés) are paired with more experienced people (mentors) in order to obtain information, good examples, and advice as they advance.

High-potential mentoring

In other cases, mentoring is used to groom up-and-coming employees deemed to have the potential to move up into leadership roles. Here the employee (protege) is paired with a senior level leader (or leaders) for a series of career-coaching interactions. A similar method of high-potential mentoring is to place the employee in a series of jobs in disparate areas of an organization, all for small periods of time, in anticipation of learning the organization's structure, culture, and methods.

See also

Further reading

  • Boreen, J., Johnson, M. K., Niday, D., & Potts, J. (2000). Mentoring beginning teachers: guiding, reflecting, coaching. York, Maine: Stenhouse Publishers.
  • Carger, C.L. (1996). The two Bills: Reflecting on the gift of mentorship. Peabody Journal of Education, 71(1), 22-29.
  • Cheng, M. & Brown, R. (1992). A two-year evaluation of the peer support pilot project. Evaluation/Feasibility Report, Toronto Board of Education. ED 356 204.
  • Clinard, L. M. & Ariav, T. (1998). What mentoring does for mentors: A cross-cultural perspective. European Journal of Teacher Education, 21(1), 91-108.
  • Cox, M.D. (1997). Walking the tightrope: The role of mentoring in developing educators as professionals, in Mullen, C.A.. In M.D. Cox, C.K. Boettcher, & D.S. Adoue (Eds.), Breaking the circle of one: Redefining mentorship in the lives and writings of educators. New York: Peter Lang.
  • Daloz, L. A. (1999). Mentor: Guiding the journey of adult learners. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Kram, K. E. (1985). Mentoring at work: Developmental relationships in organizational life. Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman.

External links

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