While serving the public and your community are certainly nice, this step refers to apprenticeship. Before formal book education was so common most professions were learned via apprenticeship. (Today many professions incorporate an internship or supervised work period as part of the process to obtaining licensure, because there is no substitute for hands on learning with an expert role model.) Apprenticeship in earlier times started when the student was a lot younger than today’s college student. Along with the tools of the trade the impressionable young apprentice learned values and morals from their employer. For this reason, the exemplary parent would try and find an employer whom they were comfortable having their child serve given all that the employer would be teaching their precious child. Imagine if the school system required that teachers were required to be moral role models and not simply not horrific offenders? A teacher who personifies grace under pressure, unending patience, a model of caring, superb social and communication skills? In the movie The Ron Clark Story, about how the famed Ron Clark currently Dean of the Ron Clark Academy got his start, we see (at least in the movie) a teacher who under extremely trying circumstances displays great moral character. He does so in a situation where many before him could not persevere. Not only does he persevere but the one time he slips, long past the point where others before him have quit in frustration, he walks out in horror of what he has done, having lost his cool and banged down a desk. The situation is so severe that when he first arrives at the school we see him walking in on a fifth grader being grabbed by the teacher and this student taking a swing at said teacher. The teacher quits in disgust and Mr. Clark takes his position. Imagine if all students had the opportunity to serve teachers as great as the Ron Clarks, Rick Lavoie, Rita Pierson, or even greater? Who would these students become?
I know for myself when I had a choice of accepting a teaching fellowship at any City University of New York that had a speech department I chose the one in which I knew I would have the opportunity to apprentice under one of the best teachers I had ever met in my learning career. I chose this institution in spite of the fact that it meant a considerable amount of additional travel for me.
Having a mentor is crucial to learning about life. You need an objective opinion for the multitude of decisions you make throughout your life. You need someone with more wisdom to guide you. A mentor can let you know when your perception is perhaps short sighted or even delusional. How many people would not have fallen victim to pyramid schemes has they consulted with a trusted mentor before investing? The key here is your mentor must be wise and trust worthy, a role model you wish to emulate.
As a teacher, it is important to remember your apprentices are sponges absorbing your every move. Are you an inspiring Wise One, one who models the traits necessary to be a good learner?