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#1 Chris Campbell

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Posted 04 July 2010 - 10:03 AM

What does mentoring mean to you?

What would you expect from a mentor?

If you were a mentor, what would be a reasonable commitment to one student?

Should it be one on one or is group mentoring better?

How would you assess the success of the process? How would you get out of it if it was not working out?

Would love to get lots of opinions.

Chris Campbell
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#2 Marcia Selsor

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Posted 04 July 2010 - 06:04 PM

Chris,


I get emails all the time from people asking questions about something where my name has appeared in clayart archives or someplace on the internet. I always answer those questions. I also follow up when I remember to do so. Often I get no response from those whom I have answered. I do find that a unrewarding experience. I'd like to hear if a suggestion worked or if they tried whatever was suggested.

I would happily mentor someone if they are trying to solve a specific project, problem or skill. I have over 35 years of teaching ceramics and think I could contribute in certain areas.But I would like some feedback from those receiving the advice. How would I know if I was helpful? I think if people wanted specific mentoring on a topic, it could be organized for more than one person. Possibly the mentoring, if done through a forum, those solutions could be posted for future people seeking out help for similar situations. If further help is desired, maybe additional one to one would be needed.
Success would be know if the mentored felt like they benefitted from the experience or advice. I think a reasonable commitment would be to see it through..whatever the mentoring request was. But I also think people who ask strangers for help and receive it, should acknowledge receipt. A simple.."ok, I'll try that" would be nice.

What does mentoring mean to you?

What would you expect from a mentor?

If you were a mentor, what would be a reasonable commitment to one student?

Should it be one on one or is group mentoring better?

How would you assess the success of the process? How would you get out of it if it was not working out?

Would love to get lots of opinions.



#3 hansen

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Posted 05 July 2010 - 02:08 AM

Chris: First of all I have you to thank for inviting me to these forums.

Secondly, the question in my opinion revolves around one and only one crucial fact. I have been involved in online discussions about various typical questions concerning the ceramic arts since sometime after my BFA was completed in 1993. The typical dilemma faced by most learners is the under-estimation of the difficulty of the medium. Art is supposed to be an easy "A" right? Well the lacking art taught in schools by under-developed artists maybe, but the more challenging the problems become, the more you want to actually create something, the more difficult it becomes.

The chief pattern is a lack of an ability in deductive reasoning. A question may come up and I may simply type the key word into google - and the answer stares me back. How hard was that? Is that a total lack of motivation? Or do you so rely on those "in the know" that it never occurs to question? A great deal of prodding using Socratic methods is called for.

In part this is due to a teaching paradigm that has "right answers". You never learn to question, how to frame a question, and how to grapple with a problem without out someone to lean on. At the same time teaching implies some kind of structure or scaffolding. A teacher or mentor must first know the basic elements of the media whether or not they use those elements in their own work or not. This goes against all that is taught about "art"

Ceramics isn't just "art" that is the problem - it is also history, archeology, anthropology, antiques, connoisseurship, geology, chemistry, engineering, design, sculpture, illustration, certainly other cultures - as well as what goes on in the studio, and the imagination - just for starters. It is important to be aware of the elements, the building-blocks to use constructivist language.

Just the other day I had a question from someone who had 700 lbs of reclaim they didn't know how to recycle. The right thing they were doing was generation the 700 lbs. of reclaim in the first place. That shows me the energy and approach, and the rejection of work that doesn't meet their expectations. What was lacking was the skill-set to turn the reclaim back into usable clay, and hence it also implied the inability to skillfully craft and design clay-body for specific purposes, namely, the ones the artist needed.

The other problem is that usually in seeking advice, the question is loaded with evidence that they don't want to learn, that they have already decided on what they want to do, and really have no business asking for advice in the first place. So, this is the second question. A mentor should be very frank. Everything else is a waste of time.

I think it is worth exploring (reasonable commitment) what the actual goals are, 1 credit hour, 2, or 3. With most art business the equivalent 1 hour of class + 1 hour of studio + 1 hours of research, logistics, sales, or just more studio. People have live and can pace their energies and resources accordingly. So if someone wants to become a "master" of clay, through say for example, apprenticeship, or employment in a ceramics studio business, this is a huge commitment comparable to an MFA and should be treated as such. On the other hand, if they want to just sit and chew the fat, and talk pottery, that might be the greatest inspiration of all -

Commitments need to be defined and agreed upon by both parties. Group mentoring will lead once again to someone shopping for the answer they are already fixed on; they aren't learning. Also groups tend to "vote" on the right answer. Wrong; teach questioning, not answers. Often these group votes are way off the mark. Some of the most experienced potters have never learned to examine the experience they are actually having with the clay. They just keep doing things the same way, because that's all they know. A short study in indigenous techniques would indicate otherwise. These can be found on YouTube with minimum effort.

Several ways to assess - if the goal is to get their work in retail shops, that is the only yard-stick. Craft-sales? How many per year? If the goal is whole-sale, or galleries, or one-man show, or getting in the Renwick, etc. So what are the goals? A monetary goal, however important it may be, doesn't measure much. Because each year that changes. But if the goal is to get into the high school senior art show and have a loaded portfolio for college applications, then there is your yard-stick.

anyway, that is my 2 cents worth

- h a n s e n -




What does mentoring mean to you?

What would you expect from a mentor?

If you were a mentor, what would be a reasonable commitment to one student?

Should it be one on one or is group mentoring better?

How would you assess the success of the process? How would you get out of it if it was not working out?

Would love to get lots of opinions.




h a n s e n
Stone House Studio, Alexandria, Virginia

americanpotter.blogspot.com
thesuddenschool.blogspot.com

#4 Marcia Selsor

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Posted 05 July 2010 - 08:35 AM

Chris and Eric, This has some great points by Eric. Mentors should be chosen for whatever type of expertise of mentoring is sought as he points out. Teaching requires multi-faceted knowledge that can be applied to the person seeking help. Teaching to question or developing one's intellectual curiosity is the greatest gift a teacher can instill in a student. Also I agree with Eric that the easy answer without a developed full scope of "why" does not help the person seeking help. Cyber communication seems cold sometimes and can be rude without that intention. I agree that a mentor must be direct but the mentee has responsibilities also.

#5 GEP

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Posted 05 July 2010 - 09:28 AM

From my experience with mentoring and teaching ... as much as I love to talk about pottery and to encourage others to learn, I think it's important in a mentor/mentee relationship for structure and compensation for the mentor.

Years ago, because I was generous with my time to an aspiring potter, she concluded that my time wasn't worth anything. She went on to be very inconsiderate and demanding of my time. And she wasn't learning anything, she was just very needy of attention. I'm not absolving her behavior, but I consider the situation to be my fault, because I shouldn't have given my time away to someone I didn't know very well. And (to concur with what hansen said) I should have been more frank with her once I realized she wasn't in the right frame of mind to learn.

In contrast, now I teach pottery classes at a local art center, and I have an advanced class for students who are working and thinking at a really high level, some of which have already ventured into professional waters. And providing guidance in this format is totally different. Firstly, I am able to work with them long enough, in some cases years, to know their skill level and intellect, before moving them into the advanced class. And they get a chance to know me well enough to decide if my way of teaching works for them. And secondly, I think the underlying structure of tuition and salary establishes the right frame of mind. A sense of value. These students are terrifically respectful and appreciative. These relationships are healthy and productive for everyone.

For anyone out there who wants to be either a mentor or mentee, (again to agree with hansen) I recommend having an clearly-stated structure for the relationship, that involves compensation for the mentor and a time limit, i.e. for [X] compensation I'll be your mentor for 6 months. If money is not appropriate, it could be recycling of clay, or scraping of kiln shelves, anything that acknowledges that the mentor's time is limited and valuable.

Maybe this forum could become an "online dating service" for prospective mentors and mentees? It must be hard to find a good match within your own local area. This might be a terrible idea, just floating it out there for now.

OK there's my 2 cents.

-Mea
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#6 Chris Campbell

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Posted 05 July 2010 - 10:23 AM

Actually, the online dating service is not that bad an idea. <G>
But does it fall into the "Advice is worth what you pay for it." bracket?

How does the mentor get rewarded and how does the mentee pay?

Most online advice falls into the pit of silence ... no thanks, no feedback, no progress reports.
So the rewards are few for the mentor.

Chris Campbell
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#7 hansen

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Posted 05 July 2010 - 12:12 PM

I agree that a mentor must be direct but the mentee has responsibilities also.
[/quote]

Wow - how true that is I am usually more mentee than mentor, and there have been occasions when I felt like whacking the mentor back into line - ha h a.









h a n s e n
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#8 hansen

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Posted 05 July 2010 - 01:11 PM

Right - in the movie "Ghost Dog" he (Forest Whittaker) gives a book to a young person to read with the stipulation, "read the book and when you return it we will discuss the it"

One teacher I know has a great collection from former students. Evidently, they were impressed with what they learned. Another form of payment is work. For example - formulate these glazes, make test tiles, then send me pictures of the results. In otherwords, do some research for me in return. Any way, wising up quickly is important as the ceramics community is one huge bartering system really. Mentoring is one part of that system but it doesn't work if it isn't valued.

The whole idea of mentoring became more of a focus a few years back when craft programs were being eliminated from higher education. That somehow the process of teaching and learning outside the classroom, mentoring, apprenticeships, etc. would fill that gap. But the numbers of persons wanting to be come full-time studio production potters, well there are less of them all the time, unless you include small manufacturing systems using molds, etc. Actually what is happening is other programs competing with the colleges for formal studio education dollars. Community colleges, community art centers, museums, communal and commercial work spaces, or simply renting studio space, shelf space, and taking classes at a clay center.

One of the best examples of this is Santa Fe Clay. Alexandria Creative Clay in Virginia is another example. We have Glen Echo near here in Maryland, and Manassas Clay in Manassas as well. Jane Hinckley runs her Adams-Morgan studio this way too. Her studio in the back and this large communial classroom in the front. Here in Alexandria, we have the Torpedo factory, where artists can pay rent for a space, but kilns aren't in the studios. The studio spaces are actually 90% retail space and the work is sold mostly to tourists. The community art center is The Art League School, and has had really good faculty. The clay studio is in another space however. Anyway, in these settings I see a lot of teaching and mentoring happening in these settings.

The possibility of seeking online mentoring is still a great idea. You don't want to divulge all your techniques to the potter in the booth next door, who will copy your work and sell it for less, knock-offs. But someone half way around the world? Why not?

- h a n s e n




Actually, the online dating service is not that bad an idea. <G>
But does it fall into the "Advice is worth what you pay for it." bracket?

How does the mentor get rewarded and how does the mentee pay?

Most online advice falls into the pit of silence ... no thanks, no feedback, no progress reports.
So the rewards are few for the mentor.




h a n s e n
Stone House Studio, Alexandria, Virginia

americanpotter.blogspot.com
thesuddenschool.blogspot.com

#9 Kelly Savino

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Posted 07 July 2010 - 12:10 AM

I expect I have been in both of these roles -- the mentee, at first, sometimes so overwhelmed with dozens or email suggestions that I didn't follow up with them all -- and the mentor, sometimes taken for granted by the folks who want an easy, impersonal answer, NOW. Being paid for the service can complicate it further: I had a student at the guild who ended up in my studio for some one-on-one attention, but soon felt welcome to make unreasonable demands on my schedule and my space because "after all, she was paying me."

I would be very cautious in future mentorship relationships; it takes just the right match. I find a traditional teacher-student relationship to have a lot fewer pitfalls. I went back to school in my 40s and realize now that I wouldn't have grown the way I did with peer support; the very fact that a teacher can MAKE you do what you might not wish to do, or critique without weighing the balance of honesty on a friendship, really cuts through the obstacles. It wasn't easy for me to be back in the student role, but it pushed me and challenged me in a remarkable way.

#10 Chris Campbell

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Posted 21 July 2010 - 01:42 PM

The one area where people are hesitant about entering a Mentoring partnership is the commitment ...
just like any partnership both sides wonder how it works if things go sour ... what about the breakup?

So ideas anyone ???

Should there be a standard limit to the mentoring?
We could set a time limit or a session limit.

Another area of concern revolves around the saying that advice is worth what you pay for it.
If it's for free, what value is it?

So, should anyone who gets mentored be required to spend an equal time mentoring someone else?
Any other ideas on how the experience could be "payed" for?
The time spent and the advice given cannot just fall into a hole.

Also, how to report mentor issues?

I may be over-thinking this but every moment spent planning saves an hour of fixing.

Chris Campbell
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#11 Marcia Selsor

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Posted 21 July 2010 - 09:10 PM

Chris,
I have noticed some advice on the forum is sometimes...less than accurate. I have been going through some older posts and find some really questionable answers. I know the topics are monitored...but are they chacking for accuracy? The mentoring process may run into similar problems with accuracy. What are the safe guards for mentees to assure they get a bonafide mentor?
Who is going to screen the mentors to assure quality advice?
Marcia

#12 CarlCravens

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Posted 25 July 2010 - 06:50 PM

I think there's a big difference between teaching and mentoring. The first definition my dictionary gives for "mentor" is...

1. a wise and trusted counselor or teacher.

While mentoring can happen as part of a "paid teacher" transaction, I think mentoring goes far beyond teaching with a personal relationship. The protégé *trusts* the mentor and sees them as wise... that doesn't happen without time to develop a relationship.

The mentor has an interest in the protégé beyond financial gain... a genuine interest in seeing the protégé grow. It is more a long-term relationship, not short-term... a proper mentor doesn't contract for a three-month "mentoring session". I think the mentor-protégé relationship typically grows out of an established teacher-student relationship.

The teacher demonstrates proper technique. The mentor guides the protégé to develop not only mastery of the technique, but an artistic vision and direction. The teacher is concerned that the student understand the instruction and pays the class fee. The mentor is concerned that the protégé grows as an artist.

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#13 Earthwood

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Posted 25 July 2010 - 09:05 PM

I like the dating service idea :)

Anyone willing to be my mentor in the central New Jersey area?? I know it's a long shot ;)

- Sam

#14 Chris Campbell

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Posted 26 July 2010 - 10:21 AM

We have not got the mentoring feature running yet ... Soon, hopefully.

Can you tell us what you would need or expect from a mentor?

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#15 ArtView

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Posted 30 July 2010 - 12:39 PM

Flexibility in the mentoring relationship sounds "critical." Is sounds like there are so many different needs and levels.

The following is a sampling of various mentoring relationships. Please help me brainstorm additional needs:



  • a one-time portfolio review
  • work critiques
  • an apprenticing opportunity
  • help with grant writing
  • discussion on an artist's next steps - a business plan
  • how to approach galleries and self-promotion assistance
  • scholarship application review
  • photographing work - tips and help
  • studio technician training
  • technical glaze evaluations
  • curriculum or workshop ideas/input
  • firing training (electric, wood, salt, soda, raku, etc)

Lee Ann Harrison
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#16 Colonel Potter

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Posted 30 July 2010 - 04:43 PM

I mentor in the Big Brothers program where they used my interests and personality to pair me with a boy in need of a mentor. The time spent with one another is the true mentoring. The between the lines stuff is what molds the kids the most. Been doing it 24 years. In ceramics I think i would be a good mentor in "how to do it," but lousy at "making a living from this." I bet there are many like me out in the world. I can't picture a great way to get the mentoring thing to work. I wish you luck though.

#17 JBaymore

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Posted 31 July 2010 - 12:15 PM

I think there's a big difference between teaching and mentoring. The first definition my dictionary gives for "mentor" is...

1. a wise and trusted counselor or teacher.

While mentoring can happen as part of a "paid teacher" transaction, I think mentoring goes far beyond teaching with a personal relationship. The protégé *trusts* the mentor and sees them as wise... that doesn't happen without time to develop a relationship.

The mentor has an interest in the protégé beyond financial gain... a genuine interest in seeing the protégé grow. It is more a long-term relationship, not short-term... a proper mentor doesn't contract for a three-month "mentoring session". I think the mentor-protégé relationship typically grows out of an established teacher-student relationship.

The teacher demonstrates proper technique. The mentor guides the protégé to develop not only mastery of the technique, but an artistic vision and direction. The teacher is concerned that the student understand the instruction and pays the class fee. The mentor is concerned that the protégé grows as an artist.


As a long term college professor of ceramics.........

I can't imagine any effective teaching going on without a trust relationship in place. It is the FIRST criteria for any effective teaching to happen.

I can't imagine approaching teaching thinking about my students as dollar signs.

I can't imagine solely teaching "techniques". Ceramics is bout SO much more...... who gives a ^%$#@#$% about techniques without vision, directiopn and above all else passion for the material and field.

I cannot imagine approaching teaching without being concerned that the student grow and succeeds as an artist

What you are describing there is really BAD teaching.


...................john
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#18 Chris Campbell

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Posted 31 July 2010 - 12:32 PM

We are not using the term "Paid" as to $$$$ only ... not at all.

Sometimes though, in order for people to consider your time to be worth something,
you need to put a value on it. Especially on the Internet where some seem to demand
an answer because they cannot be bothered to try ... say, a glaze testing session.
"Just tell me what will happen if I add more "X"!"

As a college professor your students know you are not teaching for free and you can also
demand they do some of the heavy lifting.

We are looking for a way to reward the teacher somehow so mentees are aware that their
time has worth ... to let them know that they are appreciated if we are going to
also ask them to mentor for free.

Chris Campbell
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#19 JBaymore

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Posted 31 July 2010 - 01:38 PM

Chris,
I have noticed some advice on the forum is sometimes...less than accurate. I have been going through some older posts and find some really questionable answers. I know the topics are monitored...but are they chacking for accuracy? The mentoring process may run into similar problems with accuracy. What are the safe guards for mentees to assure they get a bonafide mentor?
Who is going to screen the mentors to assure quality advice?
Marcia


Great point Marcia. I second this concern!

The studio ceramics field is in need of a good "peer review" system similar to that used in the professional science world. The current focus on "criticism" is a good place to start. We also need this for more technical matters.

Some of the criticism about CLAYART sometimes comes from people who actually DO know of what they speak on there trying to correct some piece of misinformation posted..... and others with less understanding then trying to shout them down when they do it.

Chris, if the Potter's Council tries to take this mentoring thing on as an "official" function of some sort........ you are sort of taking on the role of the Academic Dean's office of a university. Are you sure you qwant to get into this Posted Image Posted Image .


EDIT: Actually in just thinking about it a bit more ..... you also should be taking on the role of the Admissions department too....screening the quality of the mentees as to appropriate to a serious relationship. Otherwise, the mentors time is not going to be appreciated.

best,

...............john
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#20 Chris Campbell

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Posted 03 August 2010 - 10:12 AM

EDIT: Actually in just thinking about it a bit more ..... you also should be taking on the role of the Admissions department too....screening the quality of the mentees as to appropriate to a serious relationship. Otherwise, the mentors time is not going to be appreciated.


I've been thinking about this and came up with an idea.

What if the mentoring area was password protected and you had to write an essay to get matched in?
Maybe an essay about what experience you have, what help you need and where you hope to go ??

This would help the mentee focus on their plans, give the potential mentors a good idea of what would
be needed and those who just wanted a quick easy answer would not want to write an essay to get it.

Can this idea be developed or is it out of touch with 2010?

Chris Campbell
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