Decoding the mentoring experience: A conversation with Parker Palmer

Year: 2002

Author: Jane, Beverley

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

"I think it would be awesome for everyone to be involved in a mentoring group. A lot of the time I don't think we needed 'guidance' but it was just great social interaction with people you would otherwise not have met" says one student in a University-wide First Year Initiative designed to assist students with the transition to University studies. Parker Palmer (1998, p. 21) describes mentoring as "a mutuality that requires more than meeting the right teacher; the teacher must meet the right student. In this encounter, not only are the qualities of the mentor revealed, but the qualities of the student are drawn out in a way that is equally revealing". In the Faculty of Education's 'pilot program' 54 students (25% of those enrolled in the Bachelor of Education, Primary) were randomly selected to participate. Mentoring groups consisted of six students who chose to meet volunteer staff mentors for six weeks. This paper is a reflection on the mentoring experience of one group that continued to meet regularly. The research question: What was it about the group members that allowed successful mentoring to happen? is addressed through a conversation with Parker's ideas, thereby decoding this rich mentoring experience.