Building A Case for Mentoring in University Education

mentoring

Education, in the fullest sense of the word is not about filling one’s mind with facts – that is basically the Romanian educational system’s approach – this is superfluous at teh time of Internet and search engines. Nor is it about merely acquiring skills for the work market, as the neo-liberal approach to education would suggest.

In its times tested understanding, education is about acquiring wisdom for right living. From the time of antiquity, with an unfortunate hiatus is modernity, which is slowly overcome at present, the best way of becoming wise and competent in life matters is under the influence of a master. That is called, in biblical terms, discipleship, and in the contemporary formation vocabulary it is called MENTORING. Surprisingly, this concept was abandoned by the majority of Christians, and was rediscovered by the world of business. It is time that Christians, and, why not, educationalists, catch up now.

A recent article in Gallup Business Journal calls mentoring ‘the biggest blown opportunity in the history of higher ed’. Here are a few highlights from it.

A few months after Gallup released findings from the largest representative study of U.S. college graduates, there is much to ponder. The Gallup-Purdue Index surveyed more than 30,000 graduates to find out whether they are engaged in their work and thriving in their overall well-being. In simple terms, did they end up with great jobs and great lives?

We learned some stunning things. But one of the most important is that where you went to college matters less to your work life and well-being after graduation than how you went to college. Feeling supported and having deep learning experiences during college means everything when it comes to long-term outcomes after college. Unfortunately, not many graduates receive a key element of that support while in college: having a mentor.

Six critical elements during college jumped off the pages of our research as being strongly linked to long-term success in work and life after graduation. Three of these elements relate to experiential and deep learning: having an internship or job where students were able to apply what they were learning in the classroom, being actively involved in extracurricular activities and organizations, and working on projects that took a semester or more to complete.

But the three most potent elements linked to long-term success for college grads relate to emotional support: feeling that they had a professor who made them excited about learning, that the professors at their alma mater cared about them as a person, and that they had a mentor who encouraged them to pursue their goals and dreams. If graduates strongly agree with these three things, it doubles the odds that they are engaged in their work and thriving in their overall well-being.

And here are the distressing facts revealed by this study:

When we looked at these three elements individually, we found that about six in 10 college graduates strongly agree they had a professor who made them excited about learning (63%). Fewer than three in 10 strongly agree the professors at their alma mater cared about them as a person (27%). And only about two in 10 strongly agree they had a mentor who encouraged their goals and dreams (22%) — which means that about eight in 10 college graduates lacked a mentor in college.

From the above, it is obvious our modern education systems have some work  to do, including a restructuring of priorities, in order to rediscover the strength of true human formation in our universities. And, I would add, this is also true in our theological seminaries.

(Source, Gallup Business Journal).

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Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

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