Was Yoda a good mentor? Take a brief moment to really think about this question. Did Yoda, one of the most recognizable mentors in the Star Wars storyline, do a good job at mentoring?
Please don’t hate me when I say this, but probably not. He may have produced some of the most memorable quotes—like EVER—but how many times did his mentorship philosophy fail? Yoda’s approach to mentorship consisted of pointing out a “Padawan’s” flaws before declaring that he or she shouldn’t be a Jedi. That didn’t turn out so well for young Anakin Skywalker, who ultimately became…SPOILER ALERT…Darth Vader.
I already know what you’re thinking: Anakin’s actual mentor was Obi-Wan Kenobi. Good ole’ Ben Kenobi doesn’t fare so well on the mentorship scale either, I’m afraid. When stuck in the Dagobah system, Obi-Wan proclaims that if Luke Skywalker leaves his training session with Yoda to save his best friends from certain death, Obi-Wan won’t be there to help. You’re on your own, kid. Probably not the greatest of mentoring moments, Obi-Wan.
Joking aside—because I really do enjoy the Yoda and Obi-Wan characters in Star Wars—is it up to the mentor to decide who would make a good scientist, or how a student should proceed through a career? I would argue: not at all. I think a good mentor can identify and strengthen the qualities within a student that will help him or her succeed in the sciences, or with any career choice the trainee makes.
Our 2015 Fellow Mentor of the Year, Dr. Chad McCormick, has several ideas to offer on this topic. Check out the Q&A featuring Dr. McCormick’s mentoring perspectives on the front page of this issue.
To help reinforce the mentor-mentee relationship within the NICHD Division of Intramural Research, fellows will soon have access to a new Annual Progress Report system for mentees and mentors to complete each year online. For more information, Dr. Yvette Pittman, associate director of the NICHD Office of Education, describes the initiative.
To mentors past, present, and to be:
For your help, we thank you. (yeah, you know what voice to use)
Your Editor in Chief,
Shana R. Spindler, PhD
Please send questions, comments, and ideas to Shana.Spindler@gmail.com.