Mentors

By Madeline Rickard- Staff Writer
I remember watching the Star War prequel movies and needing to stop for a minute when Anakin was handed off to Obi wan. Before this point I was led to believe that Obi Wan was this accomplished old dude and he stood so high on his pupils pedestal making his early death so important. No, instead he just gave exposition and gave Luke another reason to become to star in a sequel. From then on everything changed with the knowledge that on his own (in the movie anyway) Obi Wan didn’t actually do anything important or present any qualities that would indicate that he would be a good mentor to this young pupil, he just happened to be there and was willing to take on Anakin. Basically he only graduated to have his spot open for Anakin and then took on Anakin like twenty minutes later to honor his late master’s wishes. Where are his qualifications? Sure, being present and willing are two pretty important parts of a mentorship, but I still think that there needs to be more.
This got me thinking, what fictional characters would make good mentors. Plenty came to mind, and even a few unlikely candidates stood out. Still, how can a mentor be judged? We could examine the relationship between them and their student and said student’s success, but other issues come up. What about those that never had a student and therefore didn’t change their life for them? Also, some people just don’t mix well together at all, let alone as student and teacher and a person’s potential to teach can’t always be based off of one person. To establish what I believe would be effective I’ll explain my grading system that determines if a person could be an effective mentor.
Willingness to teach. Some people may be able to learn from observation alone, but most benefit from somebody actually caring about learning. Instead of just handing over a textbook and some problems a good mentor often goes out of their way to show how something is done and not leave the student to figure out everything for themselves.
Availability. A teacher needs to be available to their students and not just in the classroom. Whether it be the structured office hours we have here at ISU or an easy location to find this person at least needs time for the student, else no learning will be done. Plenty of students don’t recognize some their professor’s names beyond the top of the syllabus, but they do know the young Graduate student that may have made the subject easier to understand. The point is that to make an impact the first step is to actually show up.
Enthusiasm. So this variable honestly depends on the subject. In some cases lack of enthusiasm for a character is entirely appropriate. Think of the television show Scrubs and the mentor/mentee relationship of Dr. Cox to J.D. where Cox often shows open distain for J.D and continues to mock him, but still teaches him life lessons that help foster growth. This level of enthusiasm wouldn’t work for everyone, but some jobs need the absolute seriousness a person can provide, or ‘tough love’. Still, knowing that your teacher wants you to learn can be the so motivating and make the experience that much better. To the reluctant learner, class may seem boring until somebody makes it interesting, and from there passion in born.
Knowledge on the subject. If you want to kill demons go to the demon hunters. This one kind of speaks for itself. Unless you are the kind of person that learns from others mistakes and textbooks alone a person with more experience is kind of necessary.

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