In preparation for closing out my 14 year old school email account, I have been gradually pruning emails that over the years had been meticulously organized into folders. Most have already been, or will wind up being, deleted, but a number of them warranted a second look. Such is the case of the brief email about mentoring.

One Sunday I read an article in the New York Times and felt compelled to send an email about it to my entire faculty:

In today’s (Sunday’s) Business section of the Times there is an interesting two column article about Tom Kelley, general manager of a design firm (IDEO) in Palo Alto, CA. I liked the bio for many reasons, including the part about his living in Australia and meeting his Japanese wife there but the part I want to share with all of you is the last paragraph:

     Turning 50 made me realize that I now need reverse mentors. When you are 22, you need a mentor to figure out how to be more mature, how to have an impact. Now I have young, reverse mentors inside IDEO who have taught me about video gaming, about blogging, about how to keep from getting stuck in my ways.

I sent this email to my colleagues probably about four or five years ago, and saved it because the idea of reverse mentors resonated. My children, now 20 and almost 27, have always been my reverse mentors. They, along with the many students I have taught, have kept me current with not only video gaming but music, the latest tech trends, LAN Fests, and sports. Now, in addition to music and videos, my sons keep me updated with world happenings, politics and environmental issues.

To be sure, I tune into these issues on my own, but seeing the world through the eyes of those who are younger helps me to have a more balanced perspective and exposes me to viewing the world through a wider lens. I have written a bit about the ways we can keep our aging brains healthy, and having a reverse mentor is surely yet another tool in the healthy-brain toolbox.

Below are some links on mentoring, including an informative article about Reverse Mentoring.


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