ATP mentor training/Tell me what I need to know

Tell me what I need to knowEdit

A useful ritual between mentor and protégé that builds trust and furthers mutual understanding is a formal request to tell each other the things that are "most useful", "most interesing" or "most necessary" in a given context or in general. The ritual should go both ways and encourage the protégé to be an advisor to the mentor (in so far as the mentor is interested to reveal personal information about himself to the protégé this can include personal advice).

The ritual allows the mentor to understand what the protégé considers relevant and to invite the protégé to consider the perspective of an adult when he tries to give advice to the mentor. The formal request to offer advice may sometimes require a quick reply but sometimes it may be wise to consider an issue until the next meeting. A mentor should try to make that distinction the first point to be considered each time a request is made. A typical issue that requires a quick reply is one that may have lost its currentness or may have become irrelevant for the protégé by the time of the next meeting.

Nuggets of wisdomEdit

A mentor who is prepared for a request may be able to answer quickly and to offer a nugget of wisdom as if it was readily available, even if it required prior research to find an appropriate quote or other statement that seemed sufficiently interesting and thought-provoking for the protégé. It is preferable to allow the protégé to request a statement because otherwise the protégé may begin to feel lectured, which spoils the effect. A mentor can remind the protégé to ask for advice by asking for advice himself. A mentor shouldn't try to conceal prior research either. If the protégé asks where information like a given piece of information can be found the explanation may be educational in itself and may encourage the protégé to research knowledge himself. On the other hand, if the protégé doesn't ask revealing prior research may spoil some of the "magic" of a statement and the protégé may feel lectured.

One could probably say that good mentoring practice is characterized by the fact that not communicating the language Pi is not really an option, consequently a plausible measure for the quality of mentoring (or the like) could be the degree of understanding for the shortcomings of the language that is successfully communicated. (On the other hand one could argue that best mentoring practice probably has no need for references to the language Pi whatsoever, because the knowledge and insights it is meant to convey or require is already available to the well-educated mentee — but who is perfect?)

The following handouts contain secret languages a mentor can explain to a protégé. All languages should have educational effects; if you can't understand the educational effect of a language you probably shouldn't try to use it. The languages should be explained one at a time, not all at once.

Topic rosterEdit

A topic roster can be used to help mentor and protégé to make requests according to well-known categories. The mentor can invite the protégé to propose new categories and the mentor can add categories himself. The mentor can make notes for each category, which should allow him to give an answer to the protégé after a quick glance at his notes. The protégé can offer his own roster for the mentor, if he is interested to do so. The roster can be given markers for topics the mentor sees as important (but not important enough to raise a topic without request).

As has already been mentioned the mentor doesn't have to reveal how much work has gone into writing notes. A few handwritten notes for each category should suffice and more detailed material (or even handouts) may quickly become boring for some protégés and might spoil the positive effect of personal attention.

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