Wednesday, December 12, 2018 | ePaper

Mentoring in educational institutions matters

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Ashiqur Rahman :
According to the University of Michigan, mentors are advisors, people with career experiences willing to share their knowledge with colleagues and students; support providers who give emotional and moral encouragement; tutors who give specific feedback on one's performance; sponsors and sources of information; models who can be followed for social, intellectual, economic, and moral growth of a person. Dr. Michael G. Zey, a sociologist and futurist claimed that a mentor is a person who oversees the career and development of another person, usually a junior, through teaching, counseling, providing psychological support, protecting, at times, promoting or sponsoring. The mentor may perform any or all of these functions mentioned during one works as a mentor.
Almost everybody has lack of confidence at different stage of life requiring support in their own field of work, especially in early adulthood.
Many people have never been satisfied with the quality of being average or ordinary but they do not know how to get out from there and how to reach an adorable height. We are often spinning opportunities and challenges in our head that we cannot really talk about with anyone else.
This is when a mentor becomes very valuable to us; we just do not get a clue as to who to ask or who to talk with. Sometimes we need a sage at a stage in our life who can tell us about our life, what we should do, and what we should not. With mentoring, we gain better and clear ideas, can form new habits, can perk up with academic and emotional supports.
A research of all U.S. Nobel laureates until 1972 revealed that more than half (48) had worked, either as students, post-doctorates, or junior collaborators, under older Nobel laureates. Daniel Levinson, the Yale researcher concluded: "The mentor relationship is one of the most complex and developmentally important, a person can have in early adulthood. No word currently in use is adequate to convey the nature of the relationship we have in mind here. Mentoring is defined not in terms of formal roles but in terms of the character of the relationship and functions it serves".
Shortly after Levinson's bold claim, research began to confirm the salient attributes of mentors in the career success of professionals in a range of fields. In a land-mark study by Roche (1979), a survey of 1250 top executives listed in the Wall Street Journal revealed that two thirds had an important early career mentor. Moreover, those who were mentored reported higher salaries, earlier promotions, better adherence to a career plan and higher levels of satisfaction with their careers.
Mentored professionals show better performance, smoother socialization into organizational cultures, stronger professional identity and more substantial contributions to the institution and the profession. When a disciple reports great satisfaction with mentoring and if mentorship has lasted for more than a year or two, the psychological dimension of the relationship has become more important than the formal career dimension.
Daniel Levinson revealed the significant benefits associated with good early career mentoring; he also made an observation about mentoring in academic settings:
"Our system of higher education, though officially committed to fostering intellectual and personal development of students, provides mentoring that is generally limited in quantity and poor in quality".
In contemporary academic culture, faculty are pressed with unceasing demands for research, teaching and committee work. A research confirms that they rarely initiate mentorship with students or junior faculty.
 educator recently called mentoring the "forgotten fourth leg in the academic stool".
An academic career supported entirely by research, teaching and service, is incomplete and structurally less stable than one bolstered by attention to strong student-faculty relationships.
Although nearly 95% of medical students and graduate students believe mentoring is essential for their personal and career development, only one third to one half report having a mentor.
Through the application of mentor functions such as teaching, advising, coaching and modeling, mentors help colleagues or students master professional skills and ultimately learn how to deal with the organizations as well as their staff. In academic arena, mentoring is equally important student development and their career achievement.
 Mentored students and faculty frequently describe enhanced professional skill as a prime benefits of being mentored, and after graduation, evidence from academe confirms that mentoring is highly correlated with successful initial job placement.
Although mentoring is so important in buildings the future of students, in Bangladesh, mentoring is very rare in educational institutions. As a student of Education, my experiences say that sometimes students do not show eagerness to get a mentor. Everyone needs a mentor to become successful in life although getting an effective mentor is not easy in our edu-culture.
In Bangladesh, we can see more fear, anxiety, and mental depression in students and students cannot focus on study in the complex socio-political and economic condition. I firmly believe each of them needs a good mentor to develop their career. I can realize it from my experiences of being mentored by a teacher at my college. I can feel the usefulness of a mentor.  A teacher can be a perfect mentor for students because they know their students' strengths and weaknesses more than anybody else.
Students can share their difficult situations and a mentor can guide them, encourage them, can help to develop their confidence, can teach how to communicate with others, can advise them what to do and what not. If students do better, teachers become happier and start working with renewed enthusiasm. Mentors also have some benefits in mentoring such as re-assessing their own views and leadership style, and can learn about new ways of developing students.  
As mentoring can change students' views, can show the right path to the students, Bangladesh education system should introduce mentoring in schools, colleges, universities. Before that, the government can train teachers for mentoring students in a better way. So far as I know, the NCTB has taken initiative to train headmasters to start mentoring in schools. However, for visible change, the activities should expand in every layer of education. I firmly believe, mentoring will minimize the rate of derailment of students in the country.
(The writer is a 3rd year honours student of Education at Govt. Teachers' Training college, Dhaka)       

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