Universal mentoring


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  The most fundamental job of schools is to teach good citizenship, which includes the habit of helping others. 

Why Schools Should Exclusively Use Free Software, Richard Stallman

One could see universal mentoring as a logical next goal after Universal Primary Education.

The rationale is that parents do not have any common qualification,[parenting driver's license] consequently parents cannot be expected to fill the role of pedagogues with any reliability.

Mentors can form an intentional social network with the goal to provide that reliability by supporting and educating parents where necessary (and where not necessary, because you can't easily convince all parents who may benefit from help that they are different from the parents who probably don't; that could be part of the criteria for being in the first group). One could also speculate that every adolescent may potentially benefit from mentoring, no matter how parents are qualified. For an adolescent in the role of a mentor mentoring can also be seen as a contribution to citizenship education.

As a further effect mentors who become parents later on have some prior training in pedagogy.



The suggested view is, to stress the point, that upbringing generally includes the risk of easily overlooked abuse of basic rights that occurs as a side effect of childhood and adolescence and that parents can not in general be assumed to be qualified or capable to prevent abuse of basic rights they may fail to recognize as such (e.g. lack of natural mentors). Mentors could therefore be invited to see themselves as defenders or asserters of basic rights, especially concerning the free development of personality.[1] The christian concept of love for enemies (which is frequently of little relevance due to lack of enemies) may become meaningful in a weaker interpretation and in a social context where segregation is reversed, a prominent example of which is mentoring. Consequently love for enemies in the context of mentoring would mean that a mentor should understand that even if the protégé is a nuisance a mentor can under no circumstances legitimate abuse of basic rights, which also means the mentor has acknowledged an important moral priority that could be seen as relevant for citizenship education.

Robot mentor for the OLPC

A Racter mentor for the OLPC could be programmed to pick up clues about interests and topics and reply to these interests and topics, bringing the protégé to discuss more difficult topics, but adjusting to the understanding and grade of the protégé. As an end result the mentor could provide links to further reading on Wikipedia. Racter is not a very convincing mentor but it can keep a child interested for a limited time and may provide better mentoring concerning academic topics than some of the mentors you might otherwise get in the middle of an underdeveloped country.

A robot mentor could also offer multiple-choice dialogues sometimes and/or follow prearranged dialogues following the socratic method. Teenagers may sometimes be unable to notice the difference between prearranged dialogues and "racter smalltalk" or may be interested to test out the program and to look for signs of entering or leaving a prearranged dialogue.

More convenient translations could be facilitated with an abstract language from which sentences could be translated into a selection of languages, possibly a regional language, a national language and an international language at the same time, which would also allow the child to acquire language skills while chatting with his robot mentor.

A robot mentor could also offer career counseling based on economic trends, business ideas and regional statistics (down to the level of single villages with the help of sufficient user input from these villages).

See also: Mentoring#Ideas, E-mentoring


  1. Free development of personality (German Wikipedia)

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