Mentoring, As Applied to Preparation for Careers in Higher Education

The topic of mentoring has received a great deal of attention within the world of PK-12 education. In its best format, mentoring programs identify well-seasoned mentors who can provide encouragement and technical assistance to newer teachers or other educational professionals, meeting their protégés’ ongoing needs and, perhaps, indirectly improving student outcomes. In the meantime, mentors themselves benefit, through experiencing a sense of rejuvenation and/or profiting from stimulating exchanges of new ideas. Now, how about mentoring for educators who are pursuing careers in academia? It appears that substantially less consideration has been aimed toward mentoring for aspiring higher education faculty. In this post, I explain why this is concerning and suggest a couple of possible causes and remedies.

Must We Standardize Creativity?

Some policy makers, education bureaucrats, and pundits use crisis-laden narratives that the public education system is in collapse and make calls for the overhaul of public education. They send a message about a lack of global competitiveness and impending economic slowdown and often use rankings from international tests as their example of a faltering education system. Their solutions coalesce around programs that seek to standardize, control, and homogenize public education via programs like the Common Core State Standards and national testing under the banners of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).

There seem to be some underlying assumptions with the proposed solutions for perceived low levels of global competitiveness proffered by some policy makers, education bureaucrats, and pundits: 1) International test rankings are worth pursuing; and 2) standardized programs will increase the creativity of students in United States public schools. Colleagues and I have dealt with the first claim in multiple arenas. The second claim is more interesting to me because data exist that raise questions about that assumption.