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


Hello, John, and thank you for your Mythblast and answering our questions.

In Stephen’s post/question of November 18, 2020, # 4277, he tells of his experiences as a teacher and of how teachers work with groups more perhaps than 1-1 relationships. I am wondering about (in our contemporary times and aside from fiction/fantasy here:  1) how many teachers who teach classes (larger groups) have also found that often one student (or two perhaps) in particular choose that teacher to be a mentor (and that when that call is answered)  2) what might be the/some difference(s) then of the classroom experience (teaching of larger #’s at one time) and the mentoring 1-1 process (aside from highly individualized attention) within the experience of the same classroom ?  I am also wondering 3) what might certain or special reciprocal qualities be that might make, say 1 out of 28-125 students (big as a lecture hall, perhaps) somehow call to that teacher as a mentor, and 4) when one who is already a teacher is called to be a mentor say regularly of a certain subject matter how often you may have heard that it was a particular student who called (each time?) or a less particular or more general calling (as in offering regular classes)? and if the student does “call” somehow unconsciously to the teacher/mentor in more personal situations than classes.  There is that old mystical saying that when a student is ready the teacher appears. Perhaps sometimes in classrooms the one who calls out (perhaps silently) to the teacher to be his/her mentor is an individual who has a great respect for the subject being taught and also somehow there is some key through the doorway to of the personalities, therefore  5) I am wondering how similar the mentor and one who is mentored might be at the get-go, from the very start and how often you know of stories in which they seemed opposites at first or to have some opposing qualities and then later find similarities.

I have had two professors who were mentors to me, and I have often felt that certain historical writers and poets and musicians were mentors of a sort as if I could feel some strong kinship and relationship with those deceased for a century or more. You really made me think about how students would model or mimic the teacher/mentor such as in works of art. I know that in each case where I have had a mentor I felt an immediate sense of admiration for that person or that historical personage/artist/writer/musician. Sometimes those that are historical personages seem to me in my own experience to act as the Muse. I know that at least in one case of myself as a young poet I did go about making it an exercise/study of mine to attempt to mimic a particular poet yet in the manner of also finding my own voice (mimicking some of the techniques and modus operandi but not so much copy or imitate per say) and others just less as when their music actually mentors my own life and my own experiences within my life. There are questions I have somewhere in this last paragraph I wrote here but at this time I cannot quite find the words for them and would have to think on that more.

I am also thinking, on the question on teachers and mentors, if it can perhaps be thought that all mentors are teachers but not all teachers are mentors.

6 and 7) The idea above also makes me wonder as perhaps a last question if negative examples can serve as a mentor? or mentoring experience or would mentor apply to only overall positive influences? Can a negative academic teacher so long as we learn from them be a valuable mentor?

Thank you so much.