Saturday, 2 January 2010

Why aren't mentoring and leadership skills a fundamental part of daily learning?

In my experience of learning I so often find that there are so few opportunities to lead and mentor. For the stronger students to help the less able.

I always noticed that every student had at least one class in which they excelled. In that class they were confident and happy. I don't feel our system does much to help these confident happy students pass this back to their fellow students.

I feel this is why we lack these skills in later life, few managers or colleagues attempt to mentor others and pass on skills and knowledge. I feel it's because we're not encouraged to develop this ability. Yet I feel it's a key part of creating happy, motivated and highly skilled teams and costs little in time or money to implement.

You see I saw lots of kids who failed in the classroom do very well at sport or art. As a teacher I would help these kids who do well to reach the next level by teaching their skills to the other children and by taking on the responsibility of organising small parts of activities. I'd also encourage them talk about why they enjoy the sport or art and encourage discussion with those kids who don't like it as much.

The point being that as a teacher I can focus my attention on the whole class. On helping the weaker children get something out of the activity and the stronger ones develop as more rounded and accomplished participants.

I'd do the same in the classroom with maths and english as I do with sports and art. l'd work on building relationships and teams so the children have both individual skills and skills within groups.

This isn't to say there was no group activity when I was young. In fact there was plenty. I just remember that I wasn't encouraged and mentored in the act of building up those in my team. The system doesn't reward the approach you use or the skills you learn, only the result. So there's no reward for teamwork and the skills and strengths it brings. We were all marked on result and thus we learnt generally to only trust ourselves and not others.

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