PDA

View Full Version : Why I am a mentor.


ebarker
11-22-2013, 04:29 PM
Why I am a mentor.

November 22, 2013 - Today is the fiftieth anniversary of the death of President Kennedy. When word came of his death, I was in the 2nd grade, attending an old wooden and brick school built at the turn of the 20th century. The teachers moved us to the auditorium and the principal put a black and white television set onto the stage and struggled with the antenna, desperately seeking a good signal so we could see what was happening on the news. I was too young to fully understand the gravity of the situation but I knew it was a serious and dark time. Over the next few days I saw adults weep with sorrow, and fear for the country’s future. This was a time when the country was adjusting to its new role as a superpower in the aftermath of World War II. Domestically, broad swaths of our citizens were struggling for opportunity. Opportunities in education, housing, jobs, the opportunity to determine their lives and pursue life, liberty and happiness was often non-existent. Women, persons of color, or ethnicity, or class were denied opportunities afforded others.

Growing up I loved science and engineering. Sometimes it almost seemed like I was the only kid in town that did. I had the right gender, skin color, and class background to access the few opportunities that existed. The problem was that almost nothing existed outside of a little bit of school work and library books, and a mail order chemistry set. And watching the space program. President Kennedy’s goal of going to the moon made it an exciting time for the students of science.

President Kennedy helped advance the case for equal rights and equal access. Young women, persons of color, ethnic minorities, etc, have opportunities and rights of self determination that didn’t exist fifty years ago. President Kennedy sought to give all persons the opportunity for self determination as did his predecessor President Lincoln, 100 years before. Lincoln and Kennedy fought the same fight and died the same way.

Almost two years ago I was invited to the White House Science Fair. I wandered around the White House and eventually entered the East Room. There I stood on the very spot that JFK’s body lay in rest, tonight fifty years ago. I then meandered through the rooms, heading west until I arrived in the State Dining Room. I peered up at the large portrait of Lincoln peering down at me.

Why do I work so hard to help young men and women have an opportunity to experience activities in science, engineering, technology, and many other areas ? The answer is summarized in only one word - “opportunity”.

I want students to discover an inner passion they did not know, to give them the opportunity of self determination their predecessors did not have, and to help them see how they can solve the problems not yet solved.

Giving a student a chance to discover and pursue career opportunities is one of the great gifts we can provide them. If we give them a chance to experience different types of careers, especially working in a mentor based, problem solving, risk taking environment where everyone in the room doesn't know all the answers, it will give them a much richer perspective on what the world looks like.

They will change how they see themselves, and their role in the world. It impacts the choices they make, the schools they attend, the friends that they make, the jobs they apply for, how they will treat their children... It impacts everything.

This task is open-ended. It can never be finished. The struggle is real.

Ed Barker

Greg McKaskle
11-22-2013, 08:00 PM
Thanks for all that you've done, all that you will do, and for explaining why it is important that FIRST succeed in its mission.

Greg McKaskle

AllenGregoryIV
11-22-2013, 08:50 PM
Great read Ed, Thank you for sharing.

This brought to mind another one of the projects I know you were involved with.

For those that haven't seen the series on mentorship that Kell Robotics helped put together it's fantastic.
Youtube Link to the playlist. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qatsk5WLJlA&list=PLQirytB6kTwocfytvAuOQCBBWPCOh0715)

geomapguy
11-22-2013, 09:11 PM
Ed I haven't gotten to know you that well, but you have been very helpful with our GE endeavors. From what I can tell, you are a great mentor!

sanddrag
11-22-2013, 11:27 PM
The disappointing part about being a mentor is when we go to great lengths to make opportunities available, and students do not take advantage of them. While I may not agree with many of the things out current president has done, I do like one quote of his: "Education starts at home." If more parents would buy into this, we'd be so much further ahead as a nation.

Ivan Helmrich
11-23-2013, 11:17 AM
Ed, thank you for that. I too was in the second grade. I could not have summed up my reasons for mentoring any better than you just have.

-Ivan

joelg236
11-24-2013, 01:05 AM
Thank you for that.

Could I have permission to quote this in our upcoming "mentor workshop"?

ebarker
11-24-2013, 09:23 AM
Take it and run with it, distribute and quote freely.

Foster
11-24-2013, 02:31 PM
Ed, very nice post, one of the best I've seen about being a mentor.

The disappointing part about being a mentor is when we go to great lengths to make opportunities available, and students do not take advantage of them. While I may not agree with many of the things out current president has done, I do like one quote of his: "Education starts at home." If more parents would buy into this, we'd be so much further ahead as a nation.

You say "students do not take advantage of them", I think that you really wanted to say "parents do not take advantage of them". Parents can easily open up the doors to lots of things if they were involved. One of the things that makes me sad is the slowly declining interest that some parents have in their children as they get older.