We think about education today as formal instruction in a classroom.  But that hasn’t always been the case.  

For thousands of years, young aspirants who wanted to follow a certain path would seek out a guide in their chosen field of study. Perhaps they would find a great hunter or warrior, a master builder, or healer, and then ask to train with them.  This guide would act as a mentor, trainer and teacher.  This method of passing on knowledge was common across many different cultures and was the primary mechanism for learning until relatively recently.

Modern compulsory education has been hugely successful in bringing literacy to millions and is largely responsible for a higher standard of living in many parts of the world.  Children are expected to complete their primary education and strive for admission to university to complete advanced degrees. Societies around the globe have undergone an accelerating pace of change in economy and technology, thus the demands for an educated workforce of the future are significant.

We must also keep in mind that many of the skills needed for the 21st Century are associated with deeper learning.  These are skills like analytic reasoning, complex problem solving, and teamwork, and they are difficult to learn in a traditional academic environment.

What can be done?

As is so often the case, we can learn from the past as we look to the future.

Today we are seeing a resurgence in mentorship as a means for people to learn and grow personally beyond the formal educational structure.  Mentorship is a relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. The mentor may be older or younger than the person being mentored, but she or he must have a certain area of expertise. It is a learning and development partnership between someone with vast experience and someone who wants to learn.

By expanding opportunities for people around the world to gain access to mentoring opportunities, we can give learners a chance to develop those deep learning skills needed to prepare them for the future.  Interacting with a mentor can provide that vital link between “instruction” and “experience”.  There is a great quote that sums up the value of interacting with a mentor:

Traditional knowledge based academic skills are important to insure the transfer of knowledge.  But interacting with a mentor can help people ask the right questions.

Expanding opportunities for people around the world to gain access to mentoring opportunities is the mission of TurtleWise.net.  And our goal is nothing less than to change the world.