Sunday, March 17, 2013

Mentoring Technologies

"Mentoring" is a word that gets thrown around just as recklessly as the words "education" and "learning".  The rote memorization of text and the spoken word is carelessly considered "learning".  The act of subjecting human beings to that practice almost exclusively, (when less than ten percent of the species actually thrives in those conditions), is loosely referred to as education.  "Mentoring" gets used to describe an adult showing up to be present with a child (any will do) as a guide and positive roll model.  The intent and follow through often produce great results on their own.  Intent alone accesses innate gifts and ancestral learning and sharing tools that include our emotions.  What if we looked hard at those words, "learning", "education", and "mentoring".  What if we could set aside protectionism, prejudice, doubt, and distraction for one moment.  What would the highest form of each of those words become if you let them roll around in your head a little until they mixed with memories, emotions, images from your own story with things?
Would you have every kid from five to eighteen years old learn to sit still for six hours a day? Would you lead them to believe this is the best way to learn?  Is the highest form of humanity gained by learning how to interpret and satisfy the expectations of the classroom environment?  Is our one highest success not the retention of standardized test material, but the subjegation to conformity and a brain wired to respond to external stimulii and a uniform code of expectation, even if it means medication?  Would you do this because it is what you truly believe our highest self is created by, or is it because it's "all you know"?

What if the model we call education and the act we call learning were only a few hundred years old and that model didn't consider how we elovleved to learn?  What if going out in the woods was fun for a reason?  What if being told to go outside was the best advice you could ever get regarding your education.  Could you imagine if tree climbing was just as valuable for problem solving to the tactile learner as quadratic equations are for the visual/intrapersonal learner.  What if students were identified, not as learning disabled, but by their learning styles, aptitutdes and interest?  Could you allow, in your ideal educational model, the ability for each student and learner to gravitate toward the teachers they learned from most in a pool of role models they share the same interests with, trust, and want to learn from?  Ideally, (not financially or structurally, those things should never come first) how would that look?  Would adolescent students experience a journeymans period, where seventh and eight graders explore the trades they are drawn to?  Would teaching strategies be learned in early childhood through peer mentoring?   As an extension of this, would the value of childhood friendship and heroes journey's be amplified as family and community encourage and guide it being well versed in mentoring technologies?

Change is coming.  The atrophied state of our psyche and diminished sense of connection and purpose are the driving force for that change for many in the beginning.  We know there is more than a monoculture trying to "make the grade".  We see fleeting examples of folks living their vision and we get inspired.   What if mentoring was more?  It is more. It is the tool box that evolves that fleeting sense of inspiration in to a full blown and passioante fire.  It's not a fire you have to "buy in" to or work toward annual yearly progess on.   It's what ever it is that gets you out that bed in the morning.

A mentor doesn't teach.  A mentor cultivates a learner to be an aware, proactive problem solver that manifests bounty by fulfilling their purpose.  The mentor is chosen by the apprentice more than the other way around.  Both are learning, but for real.  Real learning is that which gets inside and changes you.  Real learning is powerful personal growth and it is experienced and expected on a daily basis as is the dawn chorus of birds ahead of the sun rising.  The technologies we use to create this space take time to take root.  It might start with one person sharing them as they learn, but the support of an aware community versed in the technologies is essential in order to reverse the entropy taking place currently with respect to communication, awareness, and a sense of connection and community.