Uncovering the Cultural Dynamics in Mentoring Programs and Relationships: Enhancing Practice and Research
reviewed by Kathy Peno & Elaine Silva Mangiante - November 01, 2016
Title: Uncovering the Cultural Dynamics in Mentoring Programs and Relationships: Enhancing Practice and Research
Author(s): Frances K. Kochan, Andrea M. Kent, & André M. Green (Eds.)
Publisher: Information Age Publishing, Charlotte
ISBN: 1623968518, Pages: 344, Year: 2015
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In their book, Uncovering the Cultural Dynamics in Mentoring Programs and Relationships: Enhancing Practice and Research, editors Frances K. Kochan, Andrea M. Kent, and André M. Green provide a collection of chapters that examine an important, yet often under-addressed aspect of mentoring relationships: how cultural dimensions can impact human interactions. A powerful and relevant feature of their book is that it provides a broad perspective on mentoring programs from around the world to address the benefits and challenges that have emerged from the increased globalization and shifting populations across national boundaries. The inclusion of a section on lessons learned within each chapter provides readers with practical information about how to apply the findings to their own context. In addition, the reflection questions at the end of each chapter prompt readers to think more deeply about their own practice and provide a useful format for group discussions in learning communities.
The editors' organize the text into three sections. Each considers cultural aspects of mentor-mentee relationships, organizations, societal beliefs, and societal structures providing readers with insight into factors that influence mentoring programs and relationships.
Section One, Exploring Culture within Mentoring Relationships, explores how cultural issues influence individual and collaborative mentoring relationships. In the first chapter, editor Green provides the context with an overview of the relationship between mentoring and culture. In the next chapter Unterreiner, De Four-Babb, Kern, and Wu report the results of a study of their informal peer mentoring group that engages women in academia from across the globe. They take a collaborative approach to supporting each other in a third space that reduces isolation as group members navigate professional learning, research, and work/life balance in the academy. In the next chapter, Morreale and Hagenbuch explore the personal and sociocultural experiences of mentors and mentees engaged in a peer-mentoring program that uses a strength-based approach with traditionally underrepresented groups of students. Results of their program evaluation indicate that both mentors and mentees enjoyed successful outcomes in academic integration, transition to college, and campus and community engagement. George questions the extent that a teachers sociodemographic profile influences the mentoring activities they undertake with their students in the following chapter. Findings from this quantitative study suggest that mentoring activities vary according to gender. They also suggest that female mentor teachers attend to and support the accomplishments of their mentees more so than their male counterparts in a business school setting. Next, Marina qualitatively studies the benefits of a same gender, same race mentoring relationship for female graduate students of color. Rather than provide conclusive evidence, the author hopes the chapter will serve as a springboard for discussions concerning ways to support female graduate students of color when there is a lack of female mentors of color to connect with. This section concludes with Reeves study of the experience of immigrant entrepreneurs engaged in cross-cultural mentoring. Results indicate that cross-cultural training for both mentors and mentees is vital to the success of the mentoring experience. Mentors provide information about the new environment for newcomers, networking opportunities, and a space for discussions about newcomers doubts, business possibilities, and their aspirations.
In Section Two, The Impact of Organizational Culture on Mentoring, Kent begins with an overview of organizational culture and its role in institutionally sponsored mentoring activities. Next, Bang, Wong, Firestone, and Luft explore the role of technology in the mentoring experiences of secondary science teachers. The teachers in this study are in their first-year of teaching in culturally different school settings and are mentored via online discussion boards. The results are mixed. Some first-year teachers report they appreciate the online mentoring and resources it provides, while others feel the desire to have a mentor in close proximity to help them address issues that need immediate attention. Overall, the value of mentoring first year teachers is supported in this chapter. Two chapters in the section explore the use of collaborative mentoring and the role culture plays. Reali, Tancredi, and Mizukami further explore online mentoring in a Professional Learning Community (PLC) for novice teachers. Mentors and mentees who work together to navigate challenges of novice teaching are encouraged to develop reciprocity in their professional development. Findings suggest that organizational, interaction patterns, themes, and subjects examined, practices performed, and professional identities are all cultural variables affecting the mentoring relationships. In their chapter on developing a culture of collaboration in a preservice teacher program, Ambrosetti, Dekkers, and Knight explore a triad versus a dyad model of mentoring. Using case study methodology, the culture of three mentoring triads is examined. Each of them consists of a first and final year preservice teacher and a classroom teacher. This model deviates from the traditional approach for preservice teacher mentoring, usually consisting of one mentor teacher and one preservice teacher. The addition of a final year preservice teacher is meant to provide a peer-mentoring component to the triad. Results indicate that the triad approach allows for mentoring to occur among all members of the team and reduces the typical hierarchical issues often present in a dyad. A culture of collaboration and growth develops whereby all members of the triad are committed to the professional growth of each other.
Similarly, Craig provides the results of a study aimed at uncovering hidden cultural issues found in the mentoring relationships in a teacher induction program in Scotland. Participant mentors video-recorded classroom interactions they felt would benefit their mentors. These clips served as the basis for mentoring conversations that were also recorded as data. Multiple levels of reality are uncovered and explored in the relationships elucidating cultural complexities that are often taken for granted in mentoring relationships. This section concludes with Kilburgs eight-year-long longitudinal study examining the cultural influences that facilitate or hinder mentoring programs of nine school districts. The author identifies recurring themes across the organizations and outlines steps that districts can consider to create a culture of care (p. 202) where teachers can grow their practice together.
Section Three, The Influence of Societal Culture on Mentoring, provides insight into how societal mores and culture can impact mentoring programs and relationships. The chapter by Lunsford and Ochoa presents results from a study of mentors and student teachers from five schools within the U.S.Mexico borderland. Their findings indicate that the five schools mission statements do not address the borderland culture, a unique feature of their school context. In addition, most mentors and student teachers are not aware of the border culture. Consequently, they do not draw from it in designing their lessons to motivate student learning. In contrast, the editors position a chapter by Suh and Dagley to portray active steps taken to foster multicultural awareness and competence among school counselors and educators with their large population of Korean students through an international immersion program. The authors describe the impact of implementing a focused mentoring program with a short-term international immersion experience to help counselors gain an understanding of challenges faced by students in adjusting to life in a foreign country.
Two chapters address national sociopolitical ideology and its impact on mentoring programs, thus, challenging readers to examine mentoring approaches that are privileged in their own societal contexts. Frannson compares the peer-group mentoring model based on teacher input used in Finland with the mandatory one-to-one mentoring national approach used in Sweden as an outgrowth of education policy decisions adopted in each country and perceptions of the teaching profession in each society. Simmie and Moles depict how new teacher mentoring programs in Ireland are shaped by a national education policy that promotes reproduction and socialization into existing practices and de-emphasizes teachers collaboration and critical discourse.
Finally, three chapters explore mentoring programs for indigenous peoples in Africa and in Australia. Common features of these programs are that they consider and integrate the local culture, values, and perspectives in mentoring resulting in the mentees feeling valued and empowered. In the follow-up questions, readers are prompted to consider how to view individuals who are typically marginalized or overlooked from a strengths perspective and consider diverse mentoring approaches to nurturing their talents.