Proverbs 11:14 says, “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”
History demonstrates the value of true mentorship for an individual seeking an enriched life. With a careful eye, it is easy to discern Socrates’ influence on Plato, or George Wythe’s impact on Thomas Jefferson. Within every success story, there is a time of learning, sharpening, and development. Mentors contribute to the substance of this success. A mentor/mentee relationship is one of the most traditional forms of apprenticeship and it transcends the deterioration of today’s educational system. Because mentorship plays such a large role in history and campus life at Patrick Henry College, it is important to recognize and understand the true value of mentorship.
A mentor customizes the instruction that a student receives based upon the student’s personal needs at a time when they are most willing to learn. College students are motivated to learn because they are largely still answering the question: Who am I? A young adult tends to attempt to answer this identity question through their studies, but this method often falls short. Each class in which a student participates offers a source of knowledge and inspiration, yet these classes are structured for the purpose of establishing a foundation in its students. Essentially, this type of learning is generalized to cover the necessities. A college requires every student to complete certain “core” or “general” classes, because the college acknowledges that every student should obtain a certain set of skills and possess a specific level of understanding towards certain subject matters. This method is practical and has a purpose, but it still fails to challenge and address a student’s individual insufficiencies such that a student who enters college with specific weaknesses can graduate college with those same weaknesses unaddressed.
Mentors, however, fill this gap of learning. A mentor is able to guide and support a mentee throughout the difficult transitioning period of childhood to adulthood in a nurturing manner.
The benefits of a mentor/mentee relationship are almost enumerable, ranging from a personal relationship to having someone in authority to vouch for you. A mentor provides accountability and motivation for a protégé’s continuous improvement. A mentee can openly share with their mentor their personal goals and struggles, then the mentor can provide objective but personal advice for these matters. Thomas Jefferson spoke highly of his mentor George Wythe, who not only aided his professional life by increasing his legal understanding, but also, supported and comforted him during a time of grief. The relationship between Wythe and Jefferson models for us something that we too can seek after. They demonstrate that a mentor is a catalyst by which an individual can enrich their lives, both personally and professionally. Proverbs 27:17 sums it up well, when it says, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”
At Patrick Henry College we understand that a solid grip on history is key to facing the challenges of today. In preparing the next generation of American leaders, we want every graduate from PHC to carry with them a sense of where the country has been so that they can shape a better tomorrow. Click below to learn more about history at PHC!