Friday, September 20, 2013

Review: The Power of Peer Mentoring: Peer Mentoring Resource Booklet

The Power of Peer Mentoring: Peer Mentoring Resource Booklet
Glenn Omatsu

Retrieved from http://www.csun.edu/eop/htdocs/peermentoring.pdf  

Review by Emma Bourassa, Currently on secondment to VCC Experiential Learning Materials Developer and Field Test Instructor ESL Pathways Research Project, Thompson Rivers University

The resource I came across is from California State University Northridge and is titled The Power of Peer Mentoring: Peer Mentoring Resource Booklet.

This 21 page booklet begins with the definition: "A mentor is defined as a knowledgeable and experienced guide, a trusted ally and advocate and a caring role model." (p. 2). In addition to the definition, the author, Professor Glenn Omatsu, hones in on what an effective mentor is. The themes of being " respectful, reliable, patient, trustworthy and a very good listener and communicator" continue in each section of the booklet. The notion of mentoring as a kind of consciousness is the central idea that is reiterated in the various sections. For instance, in the section "You're Serving as a Peer Mentor When....You help [others] achieve the potential within themselves that is hidden to others- and perhaps even to the [others] themselves" (p. 4). The focus is on the mentee's success. In Misconceptions, the idea of calling oneself a Peer Mentor is challenged by the reality that..."not all [who] work with [others] as advisors... are Peer Mentors, even if they have that job title" (p.6).

The resource is a practical collection of ideas of what a Peer Mentor is and is not; which could be a useful reflective tool for those considering what Mentoring would involve. There is a self- inventory on listening skills which also could be used as a reflective tool or as agreements with a Community of Mentors. A key point that resonated with me is that Mentoring is a reciprocal act and the Mentor has a great opportunity to learn as much as the Mentee. Another valuable inclusion in the booklet is the points on working with diversity and how "[y]our own willingness to interact with individuals and groups different from yourself will make a powerful statement about the value placed on diversity... contrary to popular belief, we are not 'all the same' (p.13)." The details about the consciousness of a Mentor are stated simply and the book is organized into a definition, the development of a mentor, misconceptions, objectives of mentoring, and self-exploration. There is a list of web links for further reading.  The booklet is based on previous published works and although it is the final page, refers to Paulo Freire's idea that "[t]he fundamental task of the mentor is a liberatory task. It is not to encourage the mentor's goals and aspirations and dreams to be reproduced in the mentees” (p.21).

While the booklet is written for student peers, I think there is much that can be translated to other contexts that involve understanding the challenges of being new to an institution, role or community in higher education.

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