WHY not teacher? Why a mentor and sponsor? A teacher imparts knowledge and a relationship is time-bound. A trimester? A semester, etc.? A mentor advises based on years of experience. Relationships could be a lifetime. One can be both teacher and mentor. And what about a sponsor? A sponsor opens doors to opportunities. Herewith I recount my mentor and sponsor beginnings that greatly guided me in my professional journey to share with novices that life does have some lovely unexpected turns. And so, this September which marks the second year of my sponsor’s passing away, he who gave me the break, opened many doors for me, boosting my teaching and learning career.
My mentor and sponsor. My mentor and sponsor lived a full life. Three years ago, I learned he was in a nursing home. The next year, he passed away at 95. I keep connected with significant others he was with — kindly humans who, too, helped me grasp a great part of my dreams. He had a wonderful staff, equally passionate, to make teaching and learning a top priority in higher education (HE). To date, these lovely people, hands-on scholars, seasoned teachers and mentors continue to pursue what he had begun, initiating through research, publications and training to keep HE pedagogy, as it were, on its toes. Several have become my sponsors. Much of what I was able to do since that first door Dr. Lewis Elton opened for me, led me to the British Council, his country’s cultural institute in our country. What follows are excerpts of my tribute to my mentor and sponsor and the major door which welcomed me in. Thanks to Rob Gresham, manager, operations and finance, of the UK’s Society for Research in Higher Education (SRHE); my tribute appears in full in the blog along with others’ tributes. <https://srheblog.com/2018/10/31/lewis-elton-1923-2018/>
My tribute. “My share of tribute to Professor Lewis Elton may be a year late. Nevertheless, these many months after his passing does not diminish…my fond memories of him and my deep gratitude for the many professional and life opportunities he opened for me as one coming from another continent.” . . . As Mindanaoans know, digital technology was not available until the mid-1990s. As the then vice president for academic affairs (VPAA) from 1976 to 1986 in a Jesuit-run university — Xavier University, the Ateneo de Cagayan — to keep “myself [abreast] with the rest of the academic world, I read various educational journals, one of them a British journal, which title I can no longer remember. In that journal, I came across an article by Dr. Lewis Elton, which was about staff development for HE teachers. Further training of college teachers after having earned their baccalaureate degrees, was unheard of then, in the Philippines. The article gave reasons why teachers should have training to teach. Most, highly experienced in scholarship, HE teachers had very little teaching experience. They had expertise in research in their respective disciplines, but (mostly) had no formal training in teaching. The article further said that Dr. Lewis was to start training teachers/academics of the University Sains Malaysia. He was to help set up a support center similar to that at his home university, the Surrey University at Guildford, where there was a Center for Training in Higher Education.”
A surprise awaited me. “I wrote Dr. Elton via post of how I wish we would have such training in the Philippines.” There would be less problems for learners since, like other VPAAs, “I received comments from students about teaching and learning problems. Most college teachers would usually adopt the teaching style and techniques of their favorite teachers.”…Dr. Elton replied, inviting me “to take up a course in staff development (SD) at Surrey University in Guildford and that he would ask for a study grant for me from the BC. Shortly after, to my great surprise, returning to the UK from Malaysia, he changed his ticket for a stopover, to see me at XU. We discussed plans of my “sojourn” in the UK. The BC was new in the Philippines then; but through Dr. Elton, I had my course on SD at Surrey University.” In that trimester, along with my batch from 13 countries, I learned the science of SD, seminar and workshop design.
A door to publication. At Surrey U, I met Pat Cryer who, after my return from studies, invited me to contribute a workshop design for a Society for Research into Higher Education, or SRHE, publication, which she edited. “I wrote a Curriculum seminar workshop design for a volume on Training for Teachers in Higher Education,” published in the UK. . . . “My copy of the volume became popular; was borrowed from one department to another. It did help a lot. Though now lost, I remember one contributor, David Boud.”
A door to Scotland’s best. While it was only at Surrey U that I had personal mentoring by Dr. Elton, his introducing me to the BC made me apply for a “postgraduate course on Institutional Management at the University of London, Institute of Education conducted by Allan Schofield and Martin Lowe.” The latter, then Secretary at St. Andrews University in Scotland and later, after retiring as Secretary of Manchester U, actively rejoined the Royal Scottish Pipers’ Society and helped establish a degree in piping. Thanks to the late Martin Lowe, my month’s immersion on CPD at St. Andrews, Scotland’s best, gifted me the “Oxbridge” experience.
More doors, next week.