Grace Cochran

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How does the web effect the role model or mentor/student relationship? And can the internet be used to create more available options...

As someone who was taken away from there role model at a young age and not having another person around who shared my passion I've recognized the lack of role models and mentor available to people my age. (In there teens.) I like this incredibly skilled boy also found people to admire online and watching videos of other people play guitar (which happens to be my passion as well) taught myself to play.

The question is this, How does the web effect the role model or mentor/student relationship? And can the internet be used to create more available options for kids to find mentors and role models?

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    Aug 12 2012: I am very grateful you enjoyed my work, thank you so much.

    The internet is by no means a replacement or a substitute to the personal relationship and bond one develops with their teacher which can lead to more personal interaction and development of the student, HOWEVER, I do believe it is a powerful learning tool.

    Having come from a classical music background (I am a classically trained pianist and have been learning from the same teacher since I was 6 years old) I am very familiar with the student teacher relationship. It has led to my development as a musician and an artist.

    I am completely self taught when it comes to guitar and all the other instruments I play. I admit that due to my early musical training it is somewhat easier for me to pick up other instruments than it would be for someone completely unfamiliar with any sort of musical instrument but that does not mean one cannot learn form the internet.

    We have access to so much information on the internet. I could just pick and choose the pieces I wanted to learn, find instructions as to how to play them, look at different players approaching a particular piece differently and incorporate ALL of that into my playing style. The internet is my creative environment. I can choose to be surrounded by the best musicians and artists and can try to take my playing to an even higher level. and this is not just limited to music. Any art form can benefit from the massive reach the internet will provide it, be it film, fine art, dance. anything.

    People learn by watching and listening, observation and exposure. the internet provides all of that.
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    Aug 10 2012: Hi Grace. I am a researcher from New Zealand passionate about the same question!

    Our group carried out research on Role Models for Youth At-Risk. We surveyed a number of groups, collected foundational data about issues faced by at-risk youth and reviewed established oral storytelling methodologies to address these issues. We then collected stories from 26 young people about how they had overcome adversity; they are on: A 7 min trailer with excerpts from these stories was designed as a taster for teachers and students: Project FaceBook page:

    We are now working with youth organisations to embed these Virtual Role Model narratives in their activities and teach their staff how to use the storytelling methodology so that they can use it in real time as they work with the young people who do not have access to a mentor face to face. More on the project at:

    Our YouTube channel is: It includes interviews from different storytelling projects ranging from education to innovation. We recently passed 10,000 views;)

    Really interested in getting feedback and comments from people in this forum about the idea of spreading Role Modeling stories contributed by a large group of people - so that young people in need of a story can choose from a pool of ideas and people - and in turn contribute their own!
    • Aug 14 2012: Love to catch up. Am also in NZ (AUK). Am heading an initiative to counter the alarming trend of our youth dropping out of schooling. It feels like trying to plug the leaks in a hessian bag. Parents don't have a vision for education for their kids, too many not benefiting from preschool, high school leaving age is an open door that beckons, Gen Y personality are not fitting into job markets, so many organizations, government departments, youth groups, churches and schools are implementing ideas to counter the drain. So much to do - with no 'silver bullet' it will take collaboration, co-ordination and innovation to reverse the trend. Looking to rally mentors, and let suitable candidates connect with our young people.
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        Aug 14 2012: Hi Steve

        Great idea! Seing we are on the same side of the world, discussing the way forward can be done whilst we are both awake!! Are details about your initiative accessible via the web or are you still in the initial stages?
  • Aug 17 2012: It seems I was thinking something on this line today. However I was thinking that one could do better on one's own - learning to do by doing, and how teacher/student learning short-circuits this. It allows people to learn more naturally with more intimate ownership of knowledge & its intertwinings and tiny stems of reality.
    Maybe student/student learning - but for a purpose - asomething to be used, sold, etc.?
    I'm not of the opinion that kids need "adult mentors" or "adult role models"; I think kids need adult friends.
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    Aug 14 2012: Hi Steve

    Great idea! Seing we are on the same side of the world, discussing the way forward can be done whilst we are both awake!! Are details about your initiative accessible via the web or are you still in the initial stages?
  • Aug 10 2012: The internet typically will only capture what the mentee says is true, and not what the mentor might observe to be true. Internet is not a replacement for inter-personal mentoring experiences or proper parenting.

    The internet can offer more opinions and perspectives, but not all of them are valid, in the best interest of the child, or applicable in all situations.
  • Aug 7 2012: Of course but why limit yourself? Why shouldn"t Socrates, Sun tse, Lao Tsu, Moses, Nanak, Mohammed, Perecles, etc. be your role models or others as we have so many choices in history. Of course, remember that our models in history and on the net may also represent an archetype very much like oneself. Good or bad who knows.
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    Jul 29 2012: People of any age can find others to respect on the web by encountering their writing, reading their blogs, and interacting with them on discussion sites. One can find good and bad role models on the internet just as one can in offline life.

    Because of its geographic reach and the potential of search functions, the internet will make it easier to find people who share interests and perhaps are further on their way to mastery than it would be if one did the same search in offline life.
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      Jul 29 2012: I second Fritzie in this (and many other things). I would add that the net is so good at providing good examples or often passive mentors that no one has to view persons in their area of weakness. An icon of virtue in one realm may be a midget in another and no one has to face their lack of roundedness as they can merely find someone good at nurturing in one exchange, someone great at piano in another, someone who can rock climb in a third and so on. In this way it is a bit like leggo blocks and we can fit each nub with a perfect link. In real life we are stuck with people in all their nubbiness.
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    Jul 28 2012: "Can the internet be used to create more available options for kids to find mentors and role models?"
    I say yes, because TedTalk itself is a living product of a place full of role models/mentors. I've seen tons of people here who I would consider role models, and I would also say that I've influenced people myself too in a way that would make me consider myself role model. And there were definitely young teens going on here too.

    So how does the web affect the role model or mentor/student relationship? The Internet has given anyone the opportunity for more exposure to other people around the world. On Google+, you can literally just add anyone to your circles whenever, and if they add you back to theirs, you guys are considered "friends." And you can also Hangout with anyone on Google+, even guys who you don't even know about.
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    Jul 28 2012: Alongside all the potential for evil there's the possibility of great benefit. In the arrangement the foremost consideration is student safety. There is no knowledge of true identities, and to help enforce that I imagine dialog interactions themselves are monitored. The program is realistically scoped to overall English improvement as well as the various, typical study areas; the possibility of true open mentoring is a bit vague, but seems a fair price for assured safety.

    Other, informal and less secure interactions have caused as much harm as good - consider all the activity of the 90's+ on IRC between evil old codgers and the impressionable young (who couldn't get enough of it).

    So I advocate structure, but realize this can diminish legitimate interaction. Once a minor becomes an adult, well, anything goes, an all-open pass back to good and evil.

    I think a middling approach would have to involve some kind of mentor vetting.
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      Jul 29 2012: I appreciate your thinking about the question of mentor vetting. This raises the obvious issue that the web is full of both information and misinformation. When seeking information or mentoring over the internet, one needs to remember that what may seem like expertise is sometimes only self-assurance. There is a lot of online mutual affirmation of misconceptions, but the number of people echoing the common wisdom that may be more common than wisdom confuses people into believing that what they have heard so many times must be true.