Excerpted from CIDDE's Teaching Times:
Mentoring is one of the hardest things to define, yet one of the most effective ways that students can learn. Mentoring is a process whereby the students and teacher can, side-by-side, put hands on the work.
In the practical process of theatre design, mentoring makes it possible to move the students from the classroom and the theoretical study within that setting to a safe place where they can put what they have been studying into practice, no matter how new or frightening the process might be to them. Many times there are students who, in the classroom, are not working at their full potential for one reason or another. Sometimes they lack discipline, and some simply have trouble learning within the structure of the classroom. However, when the learning process is taken out of the classroom and put into a mentored, practical experience of creating theatre, they excel. Suddenly the students who missed class too many times spend all available time in the theatre. The learning capacity of these types of students expands greatly. In turn, they become more interested in the classroom experience, and you can see their improvement. What creates this phenomenon? Mentoring allows for the one-on-one conversation that guides a teacher towards having a deeper and stronger understanding of what motivates a student. Observing and working alongside a student can expand the teacher’s knowledge of the student’s ways of thinking, learning, and processing information. This can then allow the mentor to target weak areas and praise strong ones in a very clear and motivating way.