Mentoring and sociocultural factors

Year: 2012

Author: McCuaig, Louise, Monsen, Sue

Type of paper: Abstract refereed



Concerns regarding the transition of secondary school leavers moving in and out of tertiary education settings are not new. Nonetheless, as Beck (1992) informs, within our contemporary western individualized societies, each person's life “biography is removed from given determination and placed in his or her own hands open and dependent on decisions” (p. 135). Consequently, as this game of self-constitution has become “more open”, so too has the need for western societies to devise governance strategies that maximise practices of selfhood which can “effect a secure transition to preferred or ideal adult futures” (Kelly, 2001b, p. 30). In this paper we draw on Foucault's (1994a, b) notion of pastoral power to explore the factors shaping the impact of one such governance strategy within the Health, Sport and Physical Education (HSPE) teacher education program at The University of Queensland, Australia.


The Mentor And Transition Experience (MATE Program) is a student-developed, activity-based peer-mentoring program for first year BHSPE students in the initial weeks of the university year. In particular, we present the “voices” of our first (mentees) and fourth year HSPE students (mentors) to explore the use of mentor programs as a device through which pastoral power technologies are employed to shape/incite undergraduate students to adopt the preferred ethical practices of the “good” HPETE student.


In so doing, we critique the role of caring schools and teachers in preparing students for tertiary studies, and the complexity of young people's academic and social needs resulting from these schooling experiences.


In conclusion, and in the spirit of Tinning (2002), we argue for a “modest mentoring” that acknowledges the alignment and contestation of ethical technologies that are characteristic of the social contexts within which these transition experiences are undertaken.