Learning, Career Development and Mentoring

glasses-272399_1280-smallYesterday I received pretty much the same question from three different people, or maybe one person pretending to be three people. 🙂 The questions went something like this.

I want to get good at RAC. Will you teach me?

One of the three suggested I might want to use my Sundays teaching them. 🙂

I’m not mad at people for asking this and I don’t want to offend anyone by mentioning this, but it goes back to a recurring theme on this blog. Some people have a very passive approach to learning and want everything given to them on a plate. The education systems in some parts of the world actively encourage this model of learning. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that people who have this passive approach to learning never get good at anything!

This links into another topic I have a strong opinion of, which is mentoring. I know some people are really into this and maybe I just don’t understand it properly, but I hate the idea of mentoring. I’ve seen it done several times and it seems to be more about blowing smoke up the arse of the mentor than helping the person being mentored. Maybe I’ve just witnessed bad examples of mentoring. If it is done badly, it perpetuates the passive approach to learning. The, “I don’t know what to do. Will you tell me?”, attitude.

I think it’s really important that people follow their own path and learn to learn for themselves. Part of that is making mistakes and learning from them. You will invariably gravitate to individuals that you look up to and inspire you, but it’s not up to them to guide you and you definitely shouldn’t try to turn yourself into a pale imitation of them.

Some of the most interesting and useful people I’ve met have come from non-science backgrounds, where free thought and creativity are encouraged. Bad science teaching, of which there is a lot, is prescriptive and discourages innovative thought in favour of learning facts.

Every time you feel you need help from someone regarding learning something new or career development, ask yourself the question, “Is there something I can I do about this?”, before you look for someone else to answer it for you.

Here are some related posts I’ve written over the years.

Like I said before, this is not about offending people. It’s about trying to encourage personal development, and of course, my opinion could be completely wrong from your standpoint, in which case I’m not the mentor for you. 🙂