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Reply To: Merlin . . . & the Lost Art of Mentorship, with Dr. John Bucher



I thought I would touch bases on your post with questions on teaching and mentoring – not so much addressing specific questions as musing on my own experience.

I taught 12 and 13 year old students in junior high on the cusp of adolescence – right at that fuzzy divide between childhood and adulthood, where all sorts of calls and projections are in play. I conceive my role not as an authority figure or father substitute (despite plenty of hooks for such projections from the children), but as a guide helping these in-between beings navigate a particularly fraught passage . . . in part by pulling back the curtain, initiating them into the mysteries of what it is to be a human being.

Definitely a magical helper aspect to that, but the classroom experience is more a collective ritual, whereas mentoring I experience (whether serving or receiving) as a relationship between two individuals.

As to how that relationship emerges when teaching, the Call I hear isn’t something the student issues, or even initiates, at least consciously: rather, it’s more a quality, trait, or act that triggers a resonance – something I recognize (re-cognize) in that person. I’d feel a sense of flow working with the student; though I often invested far more time and energy professionally into students I wasn’t mentoring, whether those students were struggling or succeeding, there would be a more personal investment to my interactions with those who sparked that sense of recognition.

The shift from teacher to mentor is nevertheless subtle, and never really complete until after graduation (at least in my mind). The student moves out of my classroom and on to high school, to other subjects, other teachers who assign their homework, give their tests, and issue their grades, which breaks the bonds of our student-teacher relationship (at least in part – there more than a few adults on Facebook, with children older than they were when in my classroom, who, decades later, still address me as Mr. Gerringer – such is the power contained in the Teacher archetype).

But a few of the students who woke that sense of recognition stay in touch. That, for me, is when the mentoring really begins. Sometimes that’s related to my field (such as having coffee regularly with a former student while she was working on her first novel), to life stuff (relationships, drug problems, life’s work, children and such . . . ).

Not sure that answers any questions – just the shape the energy takes when flowing out of one alchemical vessel (teacher-student) and into another (mentor-mentee), from my perspective.

” . . . Actual user experience may vary . . . “