Mentoring for Social Inclusion: A Critical Approach to Nurturing Successful Mentoring Relations

Mentoring for Social Inclusion: A Critical Approach to Nurturing Successful Mentoring Relations

Mentoring for Social Inclusion: A Critical Approach to Nurturing Successful Mentoring Relations

Mentoring for Social Inclusion: A Critical Approach to Nurturing Successful Mentoring Relations

Synopsis

What does mentoring really mean? What can be achieved through mentor relationships? This timely book examines one of the fastest growing social movements of our time. As millions of volunteers worldwide continue to add to the mentoring phenomenon, the need for this authoritative text becomes increasingly evident. It capably traces the history of mentoring, unravelling the many myths that surround it, with a combination of intellectual rigour, insight and lucid discussions. The author draws upon detailed case studies, providing a unique and vivid account of mentoring through the voices of the participants themselves. These eye-opening narratives reveal the complex power dynamics of the mentor relationship, giving the reader the chance to: * Contextualise mentoring against the background policy driven schemes and social inequalities; * Look beyond the popular myths of self-sacrificing and devoted mentors, and understand the emotional cost of mentoring; * Appreciate young people's view of mentoring and recognise the benefits and the counterproductive outcomes it can produce; * Reflect on a range of models of mentoring, and consider policies to support good practice. The strength of this book lies in the author's ability to present complex material in a highly readable form. It offers a radically new theoretical analysis of mentoring, based on award-winning research, arguing that mentoring cannot be separated from the wider power relations that surround those involved. For anyone with a professional commitment or link to mentoring, including managers, practitioners and policy-makers, this is an essential, incomparable read.

Excerpt

I first became interested in mentoring when I was working as a careers adviser in a comprehensive school at the centre of a very deprived housing estate in Salford. The school ran a scheme in conjunction with the local Business-Education Partnership to provide mentors from industry to pupils in their final year. I was able to observe some of these relationships as they developed, and a number of pupils brought their mentors with them when they had careers interviews with me.

One relationship in particular fascinated me. School staff were concerned that the mentor - a wealthy, middle-aged business man - was bullying the boy with whom he had been matched, and I grew anxious too. They often met in the careers library as I worked, and I could hear the older man badgering his mentee, criticizing in a negative way, and setting unreasonable targets for the boy's work. However, when I approached the lad to discuss these concerns, he was adamant that he wanted to keep this mentor, and refused to consider any replacement. When I asked how he coped with the demanding timetable his mentor set for him, he replied: 'Oh, I don't do that, I just tell him I do it. We get on fine. I don't want a new mentor.'

This glimpse of mentoring did not fit any of my vague ideas of how mentoring was supposed to work, and the mentor's behaviour went against the grain of my own person-centred approach to working with young people. Yet the boy seemed genuinely attached to the relationship, and resisted attempts by the school to replace his mentor. It did not make common sense, and the meaning of the situation tantalized me.

At the same time, I was also supporting a number of young people facing particular difficulties in their post-16 transitions from school. Some had disabilities, others faced severe social problems. All risked long-term social exclusion if their transitions were unsuccessful. I felt stressed, and sometimes distressed, by the demands of this work. I felt very committed to these clients, but I also worried that I committed too much. Often the intensive time I had to spend with them meant that I had to work late back at the careers office, catching up on routine tasks that still had to be done.

I know that my situation was not unusual. Across the country, thousands of professionals involved in youth support and guidance experience the same

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