At the end of last year, I was approached by my old university to see whether I’d be interested in mentoring a second year student as part of their newly-launched mentoring scheme… There was a bit of investment on my part, in terms of training, but nothing that I didn’t really already know from my own teaching experience. Plus I know that my dad has been successfully mentoring a number of students (now independent adults) for some years, and has found it to be a rewarding experience.
So I thought I’d give it a go!
I was originally paired with a student named Jack (female), with an interest in teaching as a career.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend the “meet and greet” that the university set up… I mean, I could have attended, but it was a week night event, an hour and a half drive from where I live, in early December. Forgive me for not wanting to do that. Even if they’d made it a Saturday afternoon or evening… I’d have gone to that. I really would have. Anyway, I made that clear to the student, and also said that I’d be happy to make the trip down for a face to face, perhaps at Easter, and made a weekend of it, revisiting old jaunts and the like. It would have been fun!
Admittedly, I didn’t have high hopes for the process from the beginning… Jack wasn’t particularly engaged (was it being pushed as a course requirement?), but she did ask a few questions, to which I responded, and asked my own questions back. This lasted maybe 4 emails, into late January. And I haven’t heard a word from her since.
In February I was asked by the university if I’d take another student on. And as Jack was apparently dead, I agreed. This particular student did even more poorly. We had, “hello student! I’m Sally!” and then “hello Sally, I’m X.” I can’t even remember their name. And then complete and utter radio silence.
Of course, I could contact my link at the university to raise the issue – I do get periodic mass emails from the office in charge, full of the joys over how well the initiative is going! – but I have no desire to get either student into trouble. And frankly, I can’t be arsed to get involved in a back-and-forth of emails explaining “why this isn’t working” and “oh dear, what can we do about that?” replies.
That “can’t be arsed” mentality reminds me a great deal of “Spoon Theory”. In that “Spoons” can represent… “energy levels”, “cares”, or to be crude, “fucks given”. And over the course of a day, week, month, there is a fixed level of Spoons that can be allocated to be “spent” on general life. Now, for most people of my age, Spoons are to be spent, in their majority, on work/mental and physical health/relationships. And by the time most of the Spoons have been spent on those areas, there are only very few left over to be spent on an unknown and apparently ungrateful undergraduate in a town not even moderately close to where you currently live.
And even less so when that undergraduate is both disinterested and unappreciative of your time, Spoons left to allocate to even emailing their superiors, fall to a figure approximating zero. And when you swap the term “spoons” for “fucks given”, you’ll understand why I’ve done nothing about it!
In all, I haven’t been even a tiny bit surprised to find the experience a total bust. I knew it almost from the day I sent an email back to the initial “would I be interested?” query. *shrug*
Of course, I like to be open to new experiences. I actively seek them out as much as time and finances will allow. I’m a firm believer that new experiences, especially positive ones, lead to ultimately happier and more fulfilled lives. However, unfortunately there is no way to see ahead to find out whether that initial punt on a new experience is going to be life-enhancing, or, as in the case of this one, a complete and utter waste of time!