When it comes to parenting, coaching, teaching, learning, and education there is a great diversity of approaches – and no shortage of strong opinions, judgments, and excuses. On a level applicable to all projects, this is explainable by difficulties of execution and communication, by differing missions and selfish choices, by resource constraints and conquering battles. But there are sources of disagreement and ineffectiveness that transcend ineptitude, selfishness, and malice and apply more specifically to mentorship. They are most apparent in parenting of small children so I’ll focus there.
A major culprit is insufficient appreciation that learning experiences influence all of the following domains:
- Skills specific to the subject being engaged
- Meta-capabilities like perseverance, concentration, logic, introspection, empathy
- Values and Habits like honesty, compassion, independence, fairness
- Facts that define truths of the subject and/or the world
- Models that explain functioning of the subject and/or the world
- Resources like status, connections, credentials, memories
- Relationships with individuals, groups, subject, society, self
Mentoring approaches are optimizations that rank not only specific attainments, but these general areas. When this happens without sufficient awareness, interdependencies threaten unpleasant side-effects. When it isn’t made explicit enough, outsiders are tempted to presume ignorance and defend worthiness of sacrificed components. And even when deliberate and explicit, chosen trade-offs are naturally challenged by proponents of alternate rankings.