Extending the Mentor Role in Initial Teacher Education: Embracing Social Justice

Feb. 15, 2015

Source: International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education, Vol. 4 Iss: 1, pp.4 - 20

The purpose of this article is to explore how mentors can act as change agents for social justice. It examines mentors’ roles in initial teacher education in the lifelong learning sector (LLS) and how critical spaces can be opened up to promote a flow of mentor, trainee teacher, learner and community empowerment.

Two thematic literature reviews were undertaken:
- one of UK LLS ITE mentoring and the other an international review of social justice in relation to mentoring in ITE and the first year of teaching.
- Bourdieu’s concepts of capital, field and habitus (Bourdieu, 1986) are used as sensitising tools to explore LLS mentors’ practices and the possibilities.

The findings reveal that LLS mentors and trainee teachers are uncertain about their roles.
In the UK and several countries, mentoring is dominated by an instrumental assessment-focused approach, whereby social justice is marginalised.

In contrast, what the authors call social justice mentors establish collaborative democratic mentoring relationships, create spaces for critical reflection, support trainees to experience different cultures, develop inclusive critical pedagogies, and generally act as advocates and foster passion for social justice.
The authors propose a model for mentoring that promotes social justice and recommendations for mentor training.

Finally, the article addresses the omission in policy, research and practice of the potential for mentors to promote social justice.
The proposed model and training approach can be adopted across all education phases.

Updated: Nov. 11, 2015