Another dot in the blogosphere?

Interpretations: Teacher mentors

Posted on: March 24, 2017

Is honesty always the best policy? Are we totally honest when:

  • Someone asks how you are?
  • A server asks you how the meal was?
  • Your wife asks you if her clothing makes her butt look big?

We lie all the time, and to make ourselves feel better, we call those social niceties white lies.

So is honesty the best policy? No, not when you have to lie to be nice or to ensure peace.

There is another type of lie: Telling the truth, but not all of it.

When I read this tweet, I had to ask myself if this was a lie of partial truth or one of wishful interpretation.

Taken at face value, all the roughly 33,000 teachers in Singapore are mentored. This means that mentors have mentors, and perhaps there is even reverse mentorship because everyone is good at something.

But just how feasible is this given practical realities of limited time and resources?

About five years ago, NIE co-implemented a modified post-practicum system with MOE to formalise the mentoring programme. Before this, mentoring was a function of teaching practicum and only few schools took the initiative to assign mentors for beginning teachers thereafter.

In the more comprehensive programme, all student teachers not only had one or more cooperating teachers during practicum, they had mentors who could look out for them in the first year or so as full-time teachers.

So do teachers in Singapore have mentors? Yes, but they are typically the younger teachers. Do they keep that mentor? Maybe, but not indefinitely. Do they go on to mentor their juniors? We cannot say for sure. Not all are cut out to be mentors and teachers already have so much to do.

The point is that an observation or interpretation in a tweet is unlikely to represent accurately. And yet that partial truth (at best) or a blatant lie (at worst) is what gets propagated.

We live in the era of #fakenews. In schooling and education, we also have #halftruths and #partialfacts. We need to dig deeper, model that practice, and teach all our learners to do the same.

Bonus: I have only critiqued the bit about mentor teachers. There is also the claim about how our students are not evaluated on their results. It is your turn to do the critical thinking.

1 Response to "Interpretations: Teacher mentors"

linlaoshi: Interpretations: Teacher mentors ashleytan.wordpress.com/2017/03/24/int… via twitter.com

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