I've got a long way behind with my CPD23 posts. Here I am writing up thing eleven, and we're up to thing sixteen already. I may canter through the next few, to catch up with the field.
I am a mentor. I mentor candidates for CILIP qualifications, and it would be wrong to go into the details in public here, but I'm afraid I came into mentoring without any experience of being mentored myself.
I can think of various reasons for this. For one, I think in the period when I was a young professional, we were much less open to making such relationships explicit. I admired some members of the profession, I would sooner have died than approached one and asked them to mentor me.
Then again, as a young man in a hurry, I was impatient with many of my elders, and found it hard to accept that they might have anything to teach me, apart from an ability to 'sit on your arse for forty years and hang your hat on a pension' (Louis McNeice). Before you judge me too harshly, remember that in 1978 the age of deference was far from over. In my first post the Librarian-in-Charge, Miss H, expected to be addressed by her title and surname, but addressed her staff by our Christian names. In a slower-paced world, there were careers to be made out of resisting change. I and others of my generation saw ourselves as the Red Guards of a Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in librarianship; bear in mind that the cultural revolution in China had only ended a few years before.
I also think that men find it harder to mentor one another. It was not always so; in ancient Greece it would have been normal for an adolescent boy to accept the affections of an older man, in exchange for his lover's wisdom. The sexual ambivalence of the relationship between Telemachus and Mentor is interesting. In several of their encounters it is the goddess Athene who takes the form of Mentor. Make of that what you will.