Daily Paradox - Written by John Bittleston on Friday, October 19, 2012 5:22 - 0 Comments
As a child grows up the caring parent and the professional teacher turn questions back to the questioner and get him or her to answer the very question they have asked. Sounds odd? Not at all. The key to education – as we discussed in the series on education – is drawing out, not pumping in. A person is educated when they can answer for themselves many of the questions they have. They will not be able to answer them all.
How is the teacher to distinguish between the questions that should be answered by the questioner and those that are genuinely suitable for the person being asked? It is a basic rule in all mentoring that we answer only those questions that we must. A Mentor knows that answering Mentees’ questions usually demonstrates failure – on the part of the Mentor.
It is a matter of being sensitive to the questioner. Mentees, like the rest of us can be lazy. A Mentee may take the view that as s/he is paying the Mentor for time they do not have to work. Quite the reverse. As anyone who has completed a PASDAQ Review knows, being a Mentee is hard work. It is all the more rewarding for that.
A Mentor will watch the body language, listen carefully to the answers of a Mentee and judge what the opportunities and problems of communicating with that Mentee are. No communication means no successful mentoring. Mentors let Mentees answer their own questions. Of course the Mentor guides, nudges, points in the right direction but a Mentee who finds the answer is going to practice it.
You know the old story of the fish and fishing, I expect. “Give a man a fish and you feed his family for a meal; teach him to fish and you feed his family forever”. There are two lessons from this – one is obvious. The second is less obvious. Those who have never fished have missed an experience it is difficult to describe.
Whether standing and casting or sitting on the bank waiting for a bite, fishing requires immense patience. That gives time to reflect and from reflection comes wisdom.
An uncle told me “I gaze at the water and I reflect on what I see and what it means – who I am, how the world works, what others need of me to make them, and therefore me, happy. That reflection allows me to make something of my life I would not otherwise achieve. I end up wiser and wise men are happier.”
Teach a man to fish and you teach him reflection as well as the skill of providing. Mentoring teaches both the lessons of fishing.
And both lessons last for life.
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Daily Paradox - May 24, 2013 6:00 - 0 Comments
by John Bittleston
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