Almost every day I see someone join and exclaim that they "need a mentor," and I started wondering exactly what these people were expecting in this mentorship. And moreover, I don't know what a healthy expectation in mentorship would even look like. I've therefore put together this little questionnaire to better understand what a magical mentor would actually do .
You do not need to be a mentor or have ever had a mentor to answer this questionnaire. The questions in bold are the "main" questions and the things in italics are example ways of approaching it. You only need to answer the bold question, not all of the italics ones (though you're totally welcome to). This questionnaire deals primarily with on-line mentorship, though insights into real-world mentorships are always welcome.
1 - Is age an important factor and if so, how? How young is too young to be a mentor? How young is too young to be mentored? How important is the age gap between mentor and student? Is it problematic if the student is older than the mentor?
2 - How much experience is required on the part of the mentor? Do they need to be initiates into some order? How many years should they have been studying? How much of their knowledge should come from experiences vs. books? Do they need experience in lots of forms of magick or should they be expected specialize and know one or two topics thoroughly?
3 - What should be required of the student? Must they already be proficient at certain basic skills like meditation? Should they swear to follow their mentor's guidance? Or swear to follow certain rules pertaining to magical conduct and ethics?
4 - What topics should be taught and how? Should the student choose what things to learn or should the mentor offer a semi-set curriculum? What lessons are considered essential and all students should take them? What lessons should a mentor be unwilling to teach (either to new students or at all)? What lessons would be hardest to teach and learn over an on-line mentorship? Should there be assignments and tests or should the student just be given information? Should lessons have some sort of schedule? How should the student provide proof of their work or progress?
5 - What are good and bad traits in a mentor or student? What behaviors are completely unacceptable? Are any behaviors acceptable for one but not the other? What personality traits should a mentor have? What traits of a student? What personality traits should prevent a person from becoming a mentor? What traits of a student? How much leeway should be given in terms of failing to meet promises (including keeping to schedule)? How should a mentor decide if a person would make a good student? How should a student decide the same of a mentor?
Re: Poll about mentors
By: Personified Moderator / Knowledgeable Apr 11, 2012
Post # 2
I thought this was curious, so I answered a view based off my personal opinion on the matter.
1 - Is age an important factor and if so, how?
I would say yes and no. No, in the sense that it can be paradoxal. I've met intelligent young people and illiterate older ones. It really depends on the person. Perhaps moreso than age, maturity and knowledge would be the more pressing factors.
How important is the age gap between mentor and student? Is it problematic if the student is older than the mentor?
You're never too old to learn, so no, I find no problem with the student being older than the mentor. I think the age gap could potentially cause issues (once again depending on the individuals) simply due to the fact that some people find it easier to associate and sympathize with someone closer to their own age range.
2 - How much experience is required on the part of the mentor?
How many years should they have been studying?
Years of study are really just a number. This, once again, depends on the person. Ideally you want someone who is well studied and well practiced, well experienced and all that jazz, if you're wanting to seriously study or learn. However, I'm not quite sure I'd want someone as a mentor who was only a year ahead of me or so- I'd personally prefer someone with a bit more under their belt.
How much of their knowledge should come from experiences vs. books?
I think a capable mentor or teacher of any sort should have mixed knowledge: partially from experience and partially from books. They both are key aspects in learning, and I would expect a mentor to be able to direct someone else from both aspects.
Do they need experience in lots of forms of magick or should they be expected specialize and know one or two topics thoroughly?
Depends on what the student wishes to learn, and what the mentor has been studying/practicing. If you're wanting a refined or more in-depth look at an area or subject, you'd most likely wish for a mentor who was more specialized in said are. If you're looking for a broader understanding, a mentor who has a variety of different subjects may suit you better.
3 - What should be required of the student?
Must they already be proficient at certain basic skills like meditation?
I don't think so. I see a lot of new-comers with no experience who would most likely benefit from a guiding hand here and there. However, if the mentor is wishing to teach more in-depth subjects- they may wish for a student who already has the groundwork laid.
Should they swear to follow their mentor's guidance? Or swear to follow certain rules pertaining to magical conduct and ethics?
I personally find it wrong to tell another person what "rules" they should follow/ morality and ethical behaviors they should display. That's up to them, really. There should be mutual respect between mentor and student- and I think once that respect is established it is made clear what both expect out of each other, and the shared information.
4 - What topics should be taught and how?
Should the student choose what things to learn or should the mentor offer a semi-set curriculum?
It could go either way. For instance, I feel most comfortable in Norse/Northern European and Germanic magick. I would most likely offer a semi-set curriulum based of my specialized area of focus. Thus, someone with a more in-depth understanding of something may wish to have a curriculum built or in place in order to achieve the learning in a specific manner. But for the mentors and teachers who have a wider variety of subjects they've looked at and are willing to teach- they may simply ask the student what it is they are wanting to learn, and go from there.
What lessons should a mentor be unwilling to teach (either to new students or at all)?
Depends on the mentor and their personal ethics/values and whatnot. I'd say don't teach something that you feel a student is not ready for- that could be potentially harmful to either the student or another person without proper understanding, in general. Other than that- personal choices.
Should there be assignments and tests or should the student just be given information? How should the student provide proof of their work or progress?
I believe the mentor should re-cap lessons with the student, either by asking questions, asking for a summary of the lessons, and otherwise probbing them to see if they really understood the information. Some students don't work well with assignments and tests, so the mentor may have to come up with creative ways of reviewing and otherwise monitoring progress.
Re: Poll about mentors
By: OthalasWind Apr 15, 2012
Post # 3
Is age an important factor?
Primarily age doesn't matter, however the point Personified made is a considerate factor, speaking from personal experience age does not show for the context or veracity of one's own worth, self knowledge, ability, or experience. I too have met many young, impressive, intelligent people. I have also been dumbfounded by meeting many older folk who claim to have been wise, experienced, and knowledgeable in certain areas and so on, and to my surprise I have learned that age is nearly meaningless, especially considering time is fluid and things change in time. I think that certain subjects should not be taught to younger peoples, but that is a personal belief, and is completely contextual depending on the subject matter, skills, and abilities etc.As far as whose age proceeds who, I suppose that would be a emotional matter, society has influenced us, culture as well, to believe and react to certain things. Mainly we were told in a myriad of ways to respect our elders, which I agree with but also believe that we should all respect each other regardless of age or any other reason, and also we are taught that that being older means one is smarter, wiser, or more experienced. However personally I find that to be untrue, you can be quite young and have experienced more, than many elders throughout their whole lives.
How much experience does the mentor need to have?
Well considering experience is subjective, that would largely depend on their understanding and skill, it could be said that one can have more experience than another but such experiences were failures, taking that into consideration, I would say to use common sense and diligence in choosing a mentor, I would be inquisitive and ask many questions to determine whether their experiences would be beneficial to my studies and my progress as a whole. If a mentor or teacher is unwilling to share, and to divulge both their successes and failures, in my opinion they would not be appropriate mentors to begin with.
What should be required of the student?
Well on a basic level several things to me seem obvious. A student should be determined to learn and be willing to work hard, they would also have to have a decent level of patience. A student should have initiative and be willing to take charge, if they finish a task, they should be able to move on without being directed to do so. They should ask questions, even ones that push and challenge the mentor/teacher him/herself. Logic, reason, and common sense are key, and they should also be resourceful and assertive. As far as them having a basic skill level, I don't find it necessarily, however if they wish to pursue such a subject if specific they should at least know enough about the subject, and have passion about it, otherwise it seems tediously wasteful, especially if the knowledge and skills they develop won't evolve or be used.
What topics should be taught and how?
That solely depends on the knowledge, experience, and skill of the mentor/teacher, one should have proficient knowledge of a subject before they are willing to mentor or teach. It also depends on the interests of the pupil. More importantly how a mentor or teacher teaches is more important than the subjects themselves. I find that many people are very rigid in their teaching methods, and if those methods don't work for someone, that seems to be it. I find that how you teach, is to be a compromise and cooperative effort between both student and mentor. As a mentor you should be able to flux and flex as necessary, be creative, and have multiple teaching methods to benefit and suit the student. I find that people have different ways of learning, and as such you have to find a way that works for both of you. Some people are visual learner, while others are kinetic, audio, or even interactive and hands on learners. Use common sense in determining the best possible way to teach.
What are good and bad traits in a mentor and student?
Well following my answers of the above questions covers some of the most important ones. However I will say this good traits for both the mentor and the student include cooperation, determination, patience, understanding, passion, honesty, and mutual respect. On the issue of bad traits for both mentor and student I would say dishonesty, lack of patience, laziness, rigidness, manipulation, and taking advantage of in a negative way. Mostly use common sense, get to know each other find out if you suit each other and complement each other, determine whether you are able to connect and from a bond, if you cannot perhaps the mentor is not right for you, and vice versa perhaps the student is not right for you.
1. Age is not so important in the general sense. I believe (And this leads to question two) That experience is the important part.
2. Experience is everything, I don't believe that you should be a master of everything to be able to be a successful mentor, so much as just knowing the art well enough to share what you know to others. I'm not a master sorcerer by any sense. But I do know enough about the mind and energies to 'share' to others.
3. Students need to have a will to learn, they can't be in it for the 'fun', and they ned to be willing to dedicate some time to things. I don't think they need to have too much experience already, just enough to get them by.
4. I think it's really up to the student in the sense they should try to find a mentor who teaches the same things. From there, the mentor should be able to decide what else needs to be taught to the student for them to really get a good sense in the subject.
5. I think a good mentor is one who can be stern, but still have enough patience to deal with students. Students need to again, be willing to learn, and also have the patience to know that they won't suddenly know everything, or be able to do everything.