The term mentor comes from Homer’s Iliad, written in 8th century BCE. In this epic poem, Homer leaves his son to the care of “Mentor” while he goes off to fight the Trojan War. Mentoring is sure to be a practice that goes back much further than the ancient Greeks: it is a practice that is part of human nature – to help and to share wisdom and experience.
Charge forward to 1968. Marshall McLuhan has the prescience to see the “global village” in a world yet to be changed by the Internet. The global village came from McLuhan’s observation that an electronic nervous system was rapidly integrating the planet.
We’ve arrived. Far from a world of harmony, McLulan described the global village as “both as wide as the planet and as small as a little town where everybody is poking their nose into everyone else’s business”. So while the global village is rich and diversity, we need to develop ways to support a greater understanding of each other and our culture and context. Learning happens continuously, and often in an accelerated way, throughout one’s lifetime – and it happens through a variety of channels – interpersonal, television, and of course, the internet. Wisdom is no longer synonymous with age.
The ancient practice of mentoring is more important than ever. It is two-way learning experience that shares knowledge and experience, and it is being reconfigured in a multitude of extraordinary ways. Today we will explore how we are remixing the mentor role – speed mentoring, peer mentoring, cross border mentoring to name a few – and with a nod to the extraordinary Mr. McLuhan on the centenary of his birth – the role of e-mentoring in the global village he so aptly prophesized.