Reflections of a Mentor

Reflecting on the Role of the Adult Educator

 As a tradesperson most of the learning I have received in my career has been of the practical, on-the-job type as opposed to classroom based learning.  Most of my teachers have been older tradespeople rather than trained instructors.  They have acted as mentors showing me the ropes and guiding me throughout the culture of the various workplaces where I was employed.  I have worked with people who were open and shared their knowledge willingly while others were arrogant and belittled and mocked my lack of knowledge.  These attitudes can also be found in adult education.  Instructors that take the time to learn about their students’ experiences and incorporate them into their instruction tend to have better success than those who regard themselves as the expert with a body of knowledge to impart to their students and disregard what their students might already know.

Technological change allows students to access a wide variety of knowledge from a vast array of resources on the Internet.  This is driving more and more adult education to take place online which changes the role of the educator from teacher to facilitator.  This technological change is so rapid that it is almost impossible for instructors to keep up with changes in their fields which are becoming increasingly specialized.  As an example I look at the carpentry trade.  At one time carpenters were involved in all aspects of house construction, now you have carpenters who specialize in building concrete forms, carpenters who specialize in framing the house, and carpenters who specialize in finishing the house.  From what I understand this process of specialization is also happening in many other fields.  Instructors will have to learn to work as a team and to complement each other in order to ensure successful outcomes for their students.

In trades education the apprentice gains more experience and knowledge about their craft as they progress through their apprenticeship so the role of the instructor must change too.   Less supervision will be required and apprentices will be asked to reflect more on what they are doing and why they are doing it.  Instructors move from being the all knowing expert to becoming more of a colleague.  This can also be seen in university with the different relationships professors have with their graduate and undergraduate students.

One constant role for adult educators is the mentoring role of that  takes place in the educational process.   This is a role that has a long history dating back to the ancient Greek poet Homer’s epic tale of Odysseus in the Odyssey .  Galbraith (2003) writes that “it is suggested that if one understands good mentoring, he or she will understand what good teaching is as well.” p. 9  It is a role that can continue on after the learner completes their formal education and can last throughout their lives.  It is a role that is widely used in a multitude of assorted work places, the educational field, and any number of other diverse organizations.

It is a role that was widely studied in the 1990’s with over 500 articles published but most of these were anecdotal and more empirical studies need to take place Hansman (2002).  One thing that is agreed is that prepared mentors are more successful Everston and Smithey (2000) and their protégés develop and sustain more workable classroom routines, manage instruction more smoothly and can gain student cooperation in academic tasks Ellinger (2002).  It is a role that adult educators must be encouraged to take on as mentoring has great promise for the individuals involved.  English (2000) views mentoring as a means of self-actualization for both mentor and protege.

As a journeyman I have always enjoyed mentoring apprentices I have worked with and it is a role I hope to adopt in my career as an adult educator.

ED465045 Critical perspectives on mentoring: Trends and issues. (Information series no. 388)

Mentoring Towards self_directedness

English, L. M. (2000) . Spiritual Dimensions of Informal Learning. In Addressing the Spiritual Dimensions of Adult Learning: What Educators Can Do. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education , (5) , 29-38. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Elliinger, A. D. ,  (2002) . Mentoring in Contexts: The Workplace and Educational Institutions . In Hansman, C. A. (Ed.). (2002a). Critical perspectives on mentoring: Trends and issues. (Information series no. 388). (15-27) . ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, Career, and Vocational Education. (ED99CO0013). Retrieved Jan. 24, 2013, from

Galbraith, M. W, (2003) .  The Adult Education Professor as Mentor: A Means To Enhance Teaching and Learning. Perspectives. The New York Journal of Adult Learning , 1(1) , 9-20.

Hansman, C. A. (2002) . Mentoring: From Athena to the 21st Century . In Hansman, C. A. (Ed.). (2002a). Critical perspectives on mentoring: Trends and issues. (1-5) . (Information series no. 388). ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, Career, and Vocational Education. (ED99CO0013). Retrieved Jan. 24, 2013, from

Merriam, S.B.,Caffarella, R.S., & Baumgartner, L.M. (2007). Learning in adulthood: a comprehensive guide. San Fransisco : Jossey-Bass.

Reflection on Trends in Adult Education _ Telementoring

The shipbuilding industry in Canada has gone through many boom and bust cycles during its history.  The precarious nature of employment has seen the number of skilled trades people engaged in the industry drastically decline over the decades.  Many left for the security of employment in other industries as Canada is experiencing a shortage of skilled trades people across the country.  It is also an industry that is facing the demographic challenge of an aging work force that is also a global predicament.  As the baby boomers reach retirement age more and more of these skilled workers take their pensions and their knowledge and leave the industry.  This comes at a time when the federal government is proceeding with the National Shipbuilding Procurment Strategy (NSPS) and Seaspan in British Columbia was chosen as a prime contractor.  Seaspan will receive $8 billion in contracts and need an additional 4,000 skilled trades people over the next 8 years.  This will create major challenges to train so many people in such a short time frame, especially when the industry has lost so much knowledge.

One way I can see to overcome this problem is to use telementoring or e-mentoring to connect retirees and new workers.  Telementoring or e-mentoring serves the same function as the traditional forms of mentoring but instead of face to face meetings or physical work relationships it relies on the Internet to connect mentors and mentees.  This allows for wider possibilities for interaction as time and place are no longer barriers.  Telementoring uses email, instant messaging and video conferencing to develop the mentor/mentee relationship.  In the early years of telementoring the primary means of communication was through email.  Text based and asynchronus it allows communication to occur at any time.  Once restricted by access to a computer modern day smart phones allow mentor and mentees to keep in touch with one another almost instantly through both text, email, and voice.  This is especially important as computers are not readily available in industrial settings but most workers, especially young workers have a smart phone with which they can access the Internet.

The program I envision would recruit and train retired trades people to act as telementors for the new workers entering into the shipbuilding trade.  This would allow the utilization of the vast amount of knowledge that they have acquired over their long work careers and that is now missing from the industry.  These telementors would supplement the work of the adult educators in trade schools  and would be would be a valuable resource for them to draw upon for assistance.  It would also connect the young worker to the history of the shipbuilding industry and instill in them a sense of pride in their chosen career.   For the retirees it would allow them to reconnect with the shipbuilding community and the satisfaction of giving back something to the younger workers.

Telementoring allows  mentees to access a wider pool of potential mentors.  It also allows for people from different work places  and industries to relate and learn from one another.  Telementoring can also give women and people from other cultures and backgrounds the support they need to be successful in the shipbuilding trades.  This will be very important as these groups will make up large numbers of the  new workers who will be hired in the future.

Telementoring has been a growing phenomenon in the educational field and there are many examples of successful mentorship programs that can be studied and adapted to meet the challenges that the B.C. shipbuilding industry faces.  Telementoring could prove invaluable in the training and recruiting of a skilled work force to successfully complete the vessels that will be built as part of the National Shipbuilding Procurment Strategy (NSPS) and see the shipbuilding industry once more become successful on the west coast.

Reflection on the Web Conference Experience

After being assigned Kate as my learning partner for the Trends and Roles Blog PIDP 3100 assignment we emailed each other and set up a Skype conference to discuss the project. Our preliminary discussion on the roles of the adult educator found that despite our disparate fields both of us had experiences with the mentoring aspect of the educational process.   Because of our familiarity with the concept we decided to research this role that adult educators play.  I chose to present “Critical Perspectives on Mentoring: Trends and Issues” edited by Cahterine A. Hansman and Kate, my partner, chose to present “Mentoring Towards Self-Directedness” by Michael W. Galbratith.   As we researched this topic we found that increasingly telementoring or e-mentoring was being use to connect mentors and their protégés.  We identified this as an emerging trend in adult education and decided study it further.  I read “The Telementoring Guidebook” by Dr. D. Kevin O’Neill as my article  and my partner read “E-Mentoring: Implications for Organizational Learning & Development in a Wired World” by Betti A. Hamilton and Terri A. Scandura.

When I first read the description for the web conference portion of this assignment I questioned whether I would be able to speak about the subject matter that my partner and I had chosen for the suggested duration.  The assignment called for me to speak for five minutes about an article on the role of the adult educator and five more minutes to present an article on an emerging trend in the field of adult education.  At first glance this seemed an awfully long time.  To my great surprise after I had presented my first topic I discovered that over fifteen minutes had elapsed.  I had a similar experience after presenting my second topic.  What I thought would be an intimidating experience instead was relaxed and instructive.

I found that my partner’s presentation meshed with mine and enhanced and expanded my knowledge of the topics we had chosen.  Rather than being a lecture I experienced a dialogue.  Both of us come from very different fields, I am a steel fabricator by trade and work in the shipbuilding industry, Kate is a registered nurse and works in the home health care field, yet we found the topics  we had chosen were very relevant to both our fields.  We could both draw upon and learn from our own realities and using specific examples from our daily practice we were able to enlighten each other as to how the mentoring process worked in our respective fields and the potential for telementoring or e-mentoring in our work places.

We experienced certain technical glitches, as after a long period of time the sound and image became garbled and blurry but by shutting down the call and beginning a new one we were able to resolve the issue.  Being able to see the person heightened the impact of the experience and gave it a certain authenticity.  It also aided the flow of the conversation we were having.   The format of the dialogue allowed for an easy exchange of ideas and allowed us to offers comments  in a supportive and respectful manner.  In our summation we were both appreciative and knowledgeable about each others field of expertise and the common concerns that we both had to deal with in our careers.

This experience taught me to appreciate the impact that e-mentoring or telementoring can have in the educational field.  It clearly demonstrated that video conferencing is an effective way to learn, communicate ideas, and build academic relationships.  We also concluded that we would continue on as peer mentors and support each other as we continue through the rest of the course.


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