Mentoring is something that is in my DNA. When I was in college I remember not just
trying to learn what the teacher was presenting, but I'd also pay attention to how
the teachers conducted their lectures. In some cases I'd think to myself that if I
were at the podium, I'd present this subject differently.
I have never formally taught any class (although that is definitely in my list of
things to do one day) but now I frequently find myself serving as a mentor to a less
senior developer or a new team mate. It's not the same thing, but it has enough
in common with teaching to make my college memories useful.
Back to my college days, in that brain-draining BSEE curriculum, one of the clearest
demonstrations of teaching skills was given to me in a way that I will never forget.
One of those semesters I was attending the Cryptography class and I just couldn't stand
the way the teacher was presenting her material. Incredibly boring projector presentations,
mostly reading from them and making no effort to keep the class awake. After I got my
horrible results in the first round of exams, I was considering getting out of that
class and coming back next semester. People kept telling me to not do that because
the new teacher for the next semester was rumored to be tough and very serious about
After a little hesitation, I decided to get out of that class and I was back in the
following semester, new teacher and all. That was the best decision I made in the entire
Mr. Campello was the best teacher I ever had. That guy had passion for Electrical
Engineering, Cryptography, and for teaching.
Differently from the previous semester, his classes were packed. Students would
not want to miss a second of each class. He would deliver never ending nuggets
of wisdom, incredible stories about how cryptography has been important throughout
history. War stories. Ancient history. You name it. They guy knew it all. Cryptography
became one of my favorite subjects, even though it's mostly advanced discrete arithmetic,
which is as boring as it gets.
During one of those classes Mr. Campello dropped a monster bomb of a quote. I don't know
if that quote is his original, or if he was quoting somebody else. I don't even remember
the context in which this quote came about. He said:
"Teaching is like telling a smaller lie everyday"
I won't bother explaining the power of that statement. I'll leave for your
own analysis. I don't think there's any other thing that somebody told me that had similar
impact that this quote.
Replace teaching with mentoring, parenting, modeling,
etc and you've got yourself a lot to think about.
06-29-2008 9:56 PM