Research by an internationally renowned psychologist at Edge Hill University has shown that mentors can be as influential in a child’s success as their teachers.
Geoff Beattie, Professor of Psychology, conducted the review on behalf of Disney UK to mark the launch of its ‘Aim High’ mentoring programme and argues that mentors create a more intimate and trusting environment for kids to learn and reach for their goals.
“We often think that good teachers are some of the most important figures in the lives of our kids,” said Professor Beattie. “But mentors can be equally as influential, giving children an intimate and focused forum to demonstrate the ‘how’ of success. Within this environment they learn to approach issues and plan, practice and deliver results. This breeds confidence, making them more resilient to everyday life and more optimistic about reaching their goals.”
His study highlights that when children are within a reassuring setting with a mentor they can ask questions without fear of ridicule, realise that the impossible is possible, and learn from people who have been there and done it themselves. He found that having a mentor was also shown to improve both a child’s attendance and performance at school.
Anna Hill from Disney UK commented: “With Aim High, Disney is seeking to inspire UK kids to set goals and reach for their dreams. It is about making the impossible possible and encouraging them to be the best they can be. The review not only shows that mentors can benefit a child’s development, but also just how far mentoring can go in enhancing their lives long term.”
Disney’s Aim High scheme is in its 3rd year and is for seven to 14-year-olds. This year’s scheme was launched this week with the help of Laura Trott and Jason Kenny, both Olympic gold medallists and mentors for young cyclists.
Watch this year’s launch at www.itv.com/news/granada/2014-02-06/olympic-gold-medal-cyclists-to-become-mentors-for-their-sport/
Professor Beattie added: “Disney Aim High gives children a taster of what mentoring is all about and the confidence to seek out longer term relationships with inspirational people who can offer them the support, encouragement and advice to reach their own full potential.”
The academic psychologist, writer and broadcaster is known for his detailed analyses of nonverbal communication which has featured in a large number of academic articles and book. He has analysed behaviour to a more general audience by appearing as the on-screen psychologist on 11 series of Big Brother and is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society.
Key findings from his latest piece of research include:
- Mentoring positively affects behaviour – including motivation, commitment, academic performance and school attendance.
- Mentoring positively affects health and career outcomes.
- Mentoring is more effective when it lies outside of a formal hierarchy and in-built authority e.g. teachers, line managers.
- Mentoring positively affects relationships – kids learn and develop appropriate strategies for dealing with issues that may arise in everyday life with respect to relationships.
- Key to success – many successful individuals single out mentoring as one of the key factors in their own success.
- Mentoring can raise a child’s horizons – by demonstrating that the impossible, is possible.
- Mentors are more effective than role models – individuals featured in books or on the news, however inspiring or revered, are ultimately too remote to be influential.
- Mentoring can provide ‘tacit’ knowledge – allowing success to develop
- Early exposure is important – children imitate the most basic forms of behaviour from others, so there are benefits to exposing them to mentors early in life.
- Mentoring has a positive effect on both the mentee and the mentor – the latter often reporting higher levels of job satisfaction and motivation at work.