Traditional mentor relationships in the lives of creative people : towards an aesthetic understanding
Traditional mentor relationships were examined from the perspective of those who work in the creative arts, with a view to establishing the meaning of the relationship and its relevance to human development, psychological well-being, and self-actualisation. The study aimed to examine whether initial research findings in the area of traditional mentoring were transferable (Bennetts, 1994), and sought to produce insight into the metaphysics of the relationship. The term 'mentor' is an honorary title bestowed by a learner. Such relationships form naturally, have a defined pattern and conditions, and promote personal development for both mentor and learner. Thirty five individuals drawn from a variety of creative arts fields were interviewed using a qualitative hermeneutical and heuristic approach. Peak experience and performance are discussed and examined, together with creativity, mental health, and relationship issues. A practical and theoretical interpersonal course for adult learners and derived from initial mentor research, is described and evaluated. Continuing mentor relationships are learner-centred, and are based on trust, respect, and a component encompassing many types of love. If the power within a mentor alliance is abused by the mentor, the mentoring aspect of the relationship ends, although any prior relationship may still continue. Mentor relationships exhibit Rogers' core conditions for learning, and Rogers' conditions for creativity, and this finding both supports and enhances Bennetts' 1994 study. Mentors were shown to promote psychological well-being in childhood, adolescence and adulthood, and also support the self-image, self-esteem and self-worth of the artist. The mentor relationship is described as an art-form, as the mentor utilises an aesthetic communication approach to the artist and the artist's work. Such a description enables the metaphysics of the traditional mentor relationship to be understood in depth. The traditional mentor alliance is viewed as a valid and vital relationship for continuing education and learning.