ERIC Number: EJ738586
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2006
When Is a Mentor Like a Monk?
Academe, v92 n3 p29-34 May-Jun 2006
The author of this article was particularly intrigued with an observation made in a paper written by one of her students in a graduate seminar on the philosophy of higher education. Most class members wrote about contemporary issues, but this student focused instead on mentoring in the medieval church. He reported that both the eastern and western rites of the church saw formal mentoring as an important means to acculturate new members and provide continuity from one generation to the next. Interestingly, he noted that many mentoring programs now under development appear to parallel those seen in the medieval church. What does the medieval church have in common with contemporary U.S. universities? One thing, it seems, is diversity. The medieval church drew its membership from many different ethnicities and cultures worldwide and thus needed explicit and formal mentoring processes to create a sense of community and to carry out succession planning. American colleges and universities today seem to be moving from reliance on the implicit, informal guidance common in monocultural groups to the explicit, formal mentoring typical of multicultural ones. Mentoring the new generation of faculty will require a concerted effort involving central administrations, departments, and colleges, schools, or divisions. Put another way, it will take a village. As the baby-boom generation of faculty approaches retirement, institutions of higher learning need to plan for its replacement. The future of the university depends as much on the ability of the new generation to reach for the torch without fear as it does on the willingness to pass it with grace. Mentoring must therefore be an important part of any succession planning.
Descriptors: Higher Education, Mentors, College Faculty, Teacher Role, Teacher Student Relationship, Diversity (Faculty)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A