There is an aspect of the seemingly endless mentor/student topic that I don’t think has had enough discussion: why do we keep having this debate? The obvious answer is “new students every year”. I don’t think that does it justice. How is it that year after year we have students, mentors, parents, teams, whoever that aren’t aware FRC is a mentor based competition?
For these new folks, it can be shocking to see a mentor do any work. In their eyes, this is obviously cheating. They channel their frustrations toward the teams who do work with their mentors. Maybe they speak up and ask the team, or ask on CD. They’re probably told “We do what’s best for our team”. In their eyes, they’ve just been told “It’s OK, we cheat”. Imagine Tom Brady telling the Colts that deflating footballs is OK. (I know, I know)
Assuming the above situation takes place at a competition to a rookie team, they went through the season under a different set of rules (though self imposed) than the other teams. They were competing at a disadvantage, and it’s too late to make up for it. The students also lost out on potentially life changing experiences working directly alongside mentors.They have a right to be upset, though they are likely upset at the wrong thing.
This problem is exacerbated by the other FIRST programs requiring mentors to be hands off. I know this is the case for FLL, I’m not actually sure about FTC. Looking at the descriptions about FRC(https://www.firstinspires.org/robotics/frc/what-is-first-robotics-competition) and FLL(https://www.firstinspires.org/robotics/fll/what-is-first-lego-league) they are surprisingly similar. No mention that one requires adults to be hands off and the other does not. It seems pretty reasonable for an FLL-graduating-to-FRC student/team/mentor/etc to assume that FRC also requires mentors to be hands off.
I admit, I am completely out of the loop about the resources available for new participants. Are there some obvious resources I’m missing? Am I making an issue out of nothing?
The goal of this thread is to come up with some ideas that we (FIRST, teams, CD) can implement to be proactive and help ensure everyone is aware FRC is mentor based going into the season.