Thursday, 13 August 2015


Jason and I had an interesting conversation the other day.  For a while now, he's been mentioning that he's mentoring me in photography and every time he says it it irks me.

So finally I told him that I didn't know what he meant by "mentoring" and he said he was teaching me.

Which then started the discussion, because to me, to teach someone you actively choose something and talk to them about it and help them learn whatever it is.  Like, that button there makes the camera go click, see?  Try pressing the button, good, good job, you learned that.

Jason's argument was that hadn't my photos gotten better in the time I've known him?  And yes, they have, but for me it became an argument of semantics.  Me picking stuff up or learning things along the way isn't the same as "being taught."

Sure, my photos have gotten better (not that you're seeing that, I stopped updating this flickr a long while ago) but it hasn't felt like the active process I would associate with having been taught.  I don't feel like he's said, I'm going to teach you X and then showed me how to do X and then sent me to out do X and then patted me on the back when I've achieved X.  So to me, I don't know... I get frustrated by the term.

Is it like, some kind of teaching by osmosis?  Is it a catalyst for faster creative and technical growth?  Is asking someone a question and getting a response the same as them teaching you?

But, yeah... learning something vs being taught something.  Thoughts?


Blogger Jason Langlois said...

That's pretty much the difference between a mentor and a teacher, I think. A mentor doesn't really say "Hey, today we're going to do learn how to set up a light stand to do this effect." It's more like they set up a light stand, and show you the results, and you go "Oh hey, that's how you get that effect." and they say something like "Yeah, you should try it sometime, because it's really cool and you could totally pull it off."

They give some advice, they try and guide you away from bad options, and they share their experience with you to help you get better. Versus a teacher, who pretty much tells you how to do something and maybe why, and then grades you on your efforts.

Osmosis is probably a good term for it.

Thursday, August 13, 2015 9:30:00 am  
Blogger Victoria said...

Good thoughts, thanks :)

Thursday, August 13, 2015 10:23:00 pm  
Anonymous Elliott said...

For certain things or certain skills it can be a combination of both. The example for me is sports or professions. I can teach or mentor in both fields. I'm a pretty decent hockey player and have been coaching kids teams for years. I wear multiple hats depending on what we're working on. Sometimes it is this, then this, then this, and presto you can skate backwards. Sometimes it's putting skills together in a package the kids hadn't thought about to make them better, their line better, or the team better. These are more big picture things such as an approach to getting into the offensive zone and setting up a scoring opportunity. They all know the basis skills required - how to skate, shoot, pass, work as a unit, but maybe they hadn't thought about putting their skills together in a different way, or for a different end result.

The same applies for professions, or hobbies. Most accountants have some similar base level of knowledge. Some have more knowledge is specific areas...I have done almost a masters in tax. I can teach new information to people or I can suggest to others how to word things or explain things so that laypeople can understand the concepts. Or I can suggest potential solutions because I have seen a similar situation and someone with less experience may not have been exposued to an issue in a similar manner. They know the technical rules, just not how to react in a situation.

I think it's a very fine line between the teaching and mentoring. The end result of both is that someone is getting better at something than they were before the relationship started. I think that is the main goal of either function.

Sorry for the verbal ramble, and I hope it makes some sense.

Friday, August 14, 2015 8:40:00 am  
Blogger Victoria said...

Cool, thanks for sharing your ramble E! :)

Friday, August 14, 2015 4:24:00 pm  

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