Are elder mentors adequately used? I think not.
There is a tendency among mentoring to pick persons of the similar ages, or of same dispositions as the person being mentored. That is a mistake. This is a natural fault, but in any mentoring program, the person in charge should FIRST look at the person to be mentored, and decide what his needs are. Are they educational? Then pick someone with proper credentials in the subjects to be entered. Is he in need of psychological counciling? If so, pick a competent psychologist as mentor.
But one finds in older people, particularly in retired educators, many of the requirements and quite often the availability of age and retirement. This writer would like to list a dozen or so persons of his acquaintance and what they would be able to do with younger needful people:
Number 1: A retired lady of 67 years of age, who was at her zenith the headmistress of a school for high I.Q. children…her record with her pupils was extraordinary, and she now has little to do personally, and could spend hours as a mentor, particulary with high-school level persons with minor problems in learning.
Number 2: An august gentleman who after graduating medical school, suddenly abandoned medicine, and turned to another doctorate in linguistics, and became a publisher as well as a published writer. He is 83 years old, in excellent health, and would be of great use to mentor budding writers.
Number 3: He is a gentleman of means who is currently doing nothing, and his educational background is in electrical engineering. He likes young people and would welcome mentoring to one or a group who would be interested in the new burgeoning energy fields.
Number 4: This elder lady was manager of a restaurant for thirty years. Her establishment had a great success for novel presentations of food, what we term ‘gourmet’. She has written and published a great cookbook, but now does nothing at age sixty-five. She would welcome mentoring any kind of food-handler or budding restaurant worker.
Number 5: This gentleman was a basketball coach in a major college and is now 78 years old and in excellent health. He would welcome teaching young persons that might be interested in basketball as a professional career, including helping the ones not suited to realize their lack of qualifications.
Number 6: This is my favorite mentor: He is a piano virtuoso who at an advanced age, had to stop appearing at concerts becaus of stiffened and gnarled hands, He is 80 years old. He would welcome mentoring virtuoso piano persons on their way to concert appearances He is still able to play the instrument but not at his old champion style.
Number 7: A bit like number 6, this elderly female violinist taught at New Yorks’s most famous music academy, but now at 71 sits at home reading and would like students to mentor.
Some of them might get to look at or even PLAY her Stradivarius!
Number 8: This more outdoor person is only 65 but has spent his entire life at sea. He knows EVERYTHING about boating and particularly sail craft. He still takes out his 41 foot sloop but would like students to teach them the rudiments of sailing, and perhaps navigation.
Number 10: Finally, number 10 is a professor of langiuages, and speaks fluently English, French, Spanish, Italian, and Russian. He understands and reads these and other languages. He is author of college textbooks in some of these languages and has good hearing and health at age 80. He would like to mentor linguists, or just people wanting to learn English as a second language, mainly immigrants.
Finally, and certainly not least, this writer is 83 years of age, in great health, and writes constanly. He publishes at least one story a week, mostly to a chain, and is an expert in teaching the awkward writer to better himself. Though he currently mentors some aspiring authors by e-mail and by snail-mail, he could certainly help in the fields of writing and linguistics from his vast production of the years in short stories, novels. and language and history textbooks. He will be 84 years old next birhday, and is in excellent health.