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Academic Peer Mentor – Matthew Bullock

Stage 5 – MArch

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.William Arthur Ward

During my Part 1 year in industry I was shown this quote and I could immediately relate to it from throughout my education, in both a positive and negative manner. Finding, or having the luck of having, educators who go beyond the curriculum and their pay grade to truly aid in the growth of one’s education seems like a rarity. Yet as a first year student I had some of the fifth years as my design tutors, all of which I found amongst the most understanding, interesting and inspiring educators I have ever had.

From that moment I knew I wanted to teach at some point later on in my career. Mentoring whilst I was a 4th year student seemed like a great opportunity to begin this process and try to replicate what my student tutors had achieved with me.

As a mentor, I believed my role to be important in encouraging students to challenge themselves rather than conforming to the normality, experimenting with a wide variety of mediums and directing them to sources of information which I myself constantly use to develop my own work and process. Because of my own experience, I was able to share my own knowledge of similar challenges. With this openness, I believe that ‘my mentees’ felt very comfortable and relaxed discussing their projects with me. Through these discussions I was able to help them find their own way towards their final schemes, which they believed in, had confidence in, and ultimately enjoyed.

This connection with the undergraduates provided an ability to integrate myself further within the school which I really valued. Mentoring additionally provided me with a rare opportunity to develop my own critical analysis and design process, whilst also strengthening my communication skills by challenging and developing ideas through a variety of processes.

On reflection, I am very proud and impressed with all the mentees I worked with and I look forward to hearing how they are doing now they are beginning their year in professional practice or third year of studies. As long as I inspire in whatever scale, volume or manner, I shall feel like I have succeeded as a mentor.

I would thoroughly recommend becoming a mentor if you like helping others, wish to understand the benefits critical analysis can have to your own work, and also want to develop personally as a student and a mentor.

Mentee: Linda Malaeb

Being a mentee gives you the opportunity to talk to someone who has been in your position about anything regarding your architecture degree. This can be regarding anything from your modules to the way you manage your time with the considerable workload.

I found having a mentor very helpful since you have another person to talk to regarding your design projects other than your tutor. In architecture opinions are very important and hearing another opinion about your design is very useful; your mentor can give lots of advice on how to tackle certain issues with your plans and point you in the right direction.

If I was confused about my tutor’s comments from the previous tutorial, my mentor would help me understand what was really the problem in my design scheme.

It is useful to talk to a student rather than a member of staff, since it is not as formal and a mentor is there to just make you feel more comfortable with the work and the stress that architecture can give.

I found it better to manage my time this year since I used to do all my work for the tutorial for my meeting with my mentor, and then from there I would change a few things and go to the tutorial with all my work done and checked already by someone else higher up in the school.

My mentor helped also check my CV since I was looking at applying for an internship and he gave me lots of advice on how to make a portfolio. Knowing people who are higher up in the school is also important as you can learn a lot from them: my mentor always showed me his work and I went to watch his crits which helped me to have an idea of what is expected in the future regarding the quality of work and presentation.

I found having a mentor very useful in general with my architecture education and I would really recommend it to everyone.

Mentee: Miles Heath

My experience of being mentored through my 3rd year was very much a positive one. It is not only just an educational activity but a social one. Taking part in this scheme has taught me to think about design in a more mature way, helped me develop new techniques in which to communicate my ideas and urged me to deliver a much higher standard of work. This has been achieved by having the fresh and critical guidance outside of a standard tutorial. This also exposed me to a high level of master’s work and gave me an insight into the process that my mentor went through to accomplish his own design ideas. As mentioned, developing myself as a designer was not the only perk. Mentoring is a much more relaxed and informal event which becomes more of a friendly talk rather than a coordinated meeting with a tutor. I have, as a result, made friends as well as progressing myself.

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