Mentoring in medicine, architecture and teaching

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Cultural Foundations of Education


Gerald P. Grant


Mentoring, Medicine, Architecture, Teaching

Subject Categories

Education | Teacher Education and Professional Development


This study examines how mentoring is understood by individuals who are recognized by others as exemplary mentors within the professional contexts of architecture, medicine and teaching.

Their understanding parallels the traditional understanding of mentoring roles as including career and psychosocial functions, requiring trust and time and offering reciprocity of benefits. Beyond this, their understanding reflects the need to facilitate learning, the importance of reflection within adult learning and the impact of gender. Although these points are not within the core of traditional discussion, they do appear in discussions of professional induction and development.

In critical ways, the understanding of these exemplary mentors moves beyond and sometimes contradicts what appears in the traditional literature about mentoring. These mentors were deeply engaged in three interrogations which determined the how and why of their mentoring. Each of these interrogations was in itself complex and multilayered. Mentors interrogated themselves--their sense of legacy and responsibility, calling and humanity, expertise and instincts. They interrogated the general life experience of others and the particular experience, needs and personality of their protégés. They interrogated their practice--their particular firm or organization--and their profession. Their understanding and acts of mentoring were contingent upon what they came to know.

Across professions, differences did appear. The world of elementary and secondary teaching stands in contrast to architecture and medicine and distinct from higher education. In architecture and medicine the novice learns from both success and error through a gradual blending of textbook knowledge and the skills of practice in a culture of teaming and inquiry, observation and development.

In contrast, the novice in elementary and secondary education assumes full responsibility for the classroom from the first moment. Opportunities to see the mentor practicing her/his art in the classroom are rare. Additionally, collegiality and help-seeking are not norms. The understanding of the art of teaching is compromised and the opportunity for professional growth is limited.

To effect change, the norms of school culture must change. Mentoring can provide an avenue for schools to discourage isolation, promote collegiality and enhance professional development through inquiry, reflection and leadership opportunities.


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