When I grow up I want to be a …..

This familiar aspiration is traditionally related to children. A nurse, a fireman, a doctor. Upon reaching adulthood, we hear about mentors. A mentor is defined as an experienced and trusted adviser, and this is what a great educator is. As it’s motivating to always have something to aspire to, mentors are invaluable aides for guidance and counsel. Importantly, a great mentor provides support and not rescue to our learning and development.

Transformational education is when learning transcends the objective of obtaining a qualification – even if that was a student’s original motivator. It’s transformational because it inspires, motivates and progresses us beyond what we believed possible. We all have stories of uninspired teachers. Equally, we remember the name and learning experiences of educators who have advanced the quality of our thinking, reasoning and worldview. These people are educator as mentor.

There’s something magical about spending time with a mentor. And, what a student or mentee often doesn’t realise is that they’re providing life lessons and magic for their mentor as educator too.

How does one identify a mentor? If someone inspires you, you want to spend more time with them. If you want to spend more time with them, you need to make it happen.

As reciprocity is key to any relationship of thriving, consider ways you can be of help or service to your mentor. A great mentor won’t expect reciprocity if they’re willing to share their time and insights, however, it’s great mindfulness to think of how you can share who and what you know with them in acknowledgment of the value they impart to you.

Regardless of our age, let us never lose the aspiration of ‘what I want to be when I grow up’. And equally, if someone deems you a mentor, acknowledge this honour with grace. The person is saying, “I want to be like you when I grow up”.


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