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mentoring vs teaching
Career Advice

Mentoring vs Teaching – Which Learning Method Should You Choose?

7 minute read | June 15, 2021
Sakshi Gupta

Written by:
Sakshi Gupta

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As upskilling becomes more and more popular in every sphere amid the coronavirus pandemic, many are in two minds about opting for a learning methodology – mentoring vs teaching. This is a personal question for many professionals looking for a career transition. Mentoring vs teaching – Which learning methodology is best for upskilling? This is a question about how one will personally be able to learn novel skills.

According to a Gartner study of 1000 employees, 25% of employees who enrolled for a mentoring program had a salary grade change.

79% of millennials consider mentoring crucial for their career growth and success. (Huffington Post)

According to Sage, 97% of people consider mentors valuable and 55% believe mentors help them succeed.

According to a Springboard Survey, 62.7% of professionals prefer to upskill through mentorship programs, while 87.9% of professionals think access to a mentor can boost their career growth.

The encouraging stats show the power of mentorship in advocating career growth and personal development. Most professionals don’t have the discipline for learning a new skill just with formal lessons on a concept(teaching focuses on how to acquire knowledge) and they learn better when they discuss and get to ask questions in real-time (mentoring focuses on the why by applying knowledge into practice).  It is important that you understand and analyse the benefits of both mentoring and teaching before weighing your options for upskilling.

Mentoring vs Teaching  – Which one is Right for You?

Teaching is to Knowledge, Mentoring is to Knowledge + Experience.

Good mentorship is essential to succeed, but many people mistake it for teaching. A teacher provides knowledge and information, but a mentor provides life lessons from experience, guides you on how to use those lessons in your own life – said Vivek Kumar, MD of Springboard India.

What is Mentoring?

Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction. — John C. Crosby, Politician

Let’s consider an example where you’re trying to build a recommender system using python through an instructional video. There exist two major paradigms for building recommender systems – content based methods and collaborative filtering methods. You blankly stare at the screen because you can’t get your head around deciding which method should I choose to build a recommender system for my dataset. Despite playing the recorded video multiple times back to back, you’re not fully sure about what will work best for your dataset and you’re frustrated!  Under such circumstances, a mentor can guide you best on which approach works best and outperforms based on their experience working with recommender systems for diverse datasets.

Mentoring is a developmental relationship wherein a mentor makes significant transitions in knowledge, thought-process, practical insight, and creativity to help a mentee develop novel skills. In peer mentoring programs, you talk regularly with your mentor to exchange ideas, discuss your learning progress, and set well-defined goals to achieve them. Knowledge sharing is an incredible part of mentoring programs where a mentor imparts practical knowledge on how to advance your career, based on their industry experience. The best thing about mentorship is that mentors have walked on a similar career path before you, made mistakes, learned life lessons from them, and have gone to be successful in their field. If you want to be privy to this wisdom while you’re upskilling, it’s time to be a part of the Springboard learning community.

What is Teaching?

Let’s consider a simple example, you’re totally new to machine learning and trying to learn about various machine learning algorithms. A teacher will teach you all the theory about supervised and unsupervised machine learning algorithms but when you start applying all the theory that you learned into practice, you find yourself stuck deciding which algorithm to use for any given dataset. You recollect all the learnings and watch the videos again and again but still scratch your head as you’re unable to decide which ML algorithm will work best for your dataset. That’s totally normal as you don’t have a mentor to guide you in the right direction when you learn from a teacher imparting instructions in a video. No doubt, it’s exciting and flexible to learn from a teacher but becomes frustrating when you don’t have a mentor to give constructive criticism and objective advice.

Teaching is the most common traditional methodology for acquiring knowledge from an expert wherein a teacher prepares the lesson and shares knowledge through instructions and explanations with a detailed module wise plan and various methods of assessment. For example, to write a novel, you need to master the fundamentals of English grammar. And before you can build a flyover, you need to know how to engineer the right angles. This is what teaching involves focussing on how to do things. Teaching is more of an isolated method of learning as it lacks interaction and guidance.

Mentoring vs Teaching: Why Choose a Mentoring Program for Upskilling?

mentoring vs teaching, top ten benefits
Image Credit: Benefits of Mentorship

Mentoring programs are an integral part of overall career success, both early in the career and also late in your professional life when you are making a career transition. Mentoring programs help you gain in-depth insight into where your career may lead as you tend to challenge yourself to improve and grow. Here are just some of the ways mentoring programs can help:

  • Expert knowledge sharing as most of the mentors have at least 5 years of practical industry experience.
  • Mentors help you see things from a different perspective which is very important for career growth.
  • Mentors act as a sounding board and are a one-stop solution to all your problems. Whatever you have in your mind be it doubts, questions, interview preparation, resume creation – a mentor is the go-to person to find solutions.

Mentoring vs Teaching – Bottomline

Teaching is more of a giver approach to learning wherein the giver (teacher) is control of the situation as it’s a teacher who decides what knowledge he/she wants to share with the student. Mentoring is more of a seeking approach to learning where a student prepares for the session and decides what guidance and information he/she needs and seeks that clarification from the mentor. With teaching, learning is usually generalised but with mentoring the knowledge, information, and guidance shared by the mentor are customised according to the individual’s learning needs. Having a mentoring approach to learning is like having a personal coach for all your career transition needs, be it career counselling or industry application of theoretical knowledge.

You can gain a lot of knowledge from a teacher but the knowledge sharing that comes from a mentor can’t be replicated. Every teacher can be a mentor and vice-versa. Both play a vital role in transformational learning and growth but a mentor helps you develop both professionally and personally. So bottom line, mentoring is always a win-win and it has to be embedded formally to foster career growth. Mentoring today is a need to have, not just nice to have.

Ready to Upskill? Choose the Right Mentoring Program

Behind every successful professional is a mentor. From Steve Jobs to Jeff Bezos to Mark Zuckerberg, all the high-flyers in the industry have had a big-hearted and trusted mentor throughout their career. Steve Jobs, for example, got the name of his company and the “reality distortion field” technique(one of his hallmarks) from his first mentor Robert Friedland. Remember, mentors, are not just for the famous and rich.

Here, at Springboard, we believe in mentors to help professionals guide through career transitions along the way -and we’ve seen how 1:1 mentoring can really transform the learning experience. With over 10 years of experience, mentors at Springboard draw experience as industry professionals and get to know students as individuals. Our mentors are energised and motivated, care about developing others, and are willing to commit their time.

You get guidance at each stage on your learning journey by working with them on real-world projects. Learning at Springboard revolves around two key elements, hands-on projects and mentorship. When students enroll for a mentoring program at Springboard, they are assigned a dedicated, expert mentor who will train them one-on-one and answer any kind of specific questions they have.

Are you ready to embark on a new learning journey? Yes, but maybe not all alone?  You need the magic key – a mentor to make sure that you’re constantly progressing. Upskilling is definitely not all plain sailing but with mentor guidance, you can easily navigate the rocky patches. Discover how Springboard’s mentoring programs in data analytics, data science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence can improve job skills, salary, and self-worth. More than that, Springboard’s online learning programs will help you discover the unexpected benefits of mentoring that will drive you enough to succeed. Put down your coffee cup and doughnut, and think about finding a career mentor for yourself to unlock your dream career. Ready to meet Springboard mentors ?? Check the mentors here.

Since you’re here…
Interested in a career in data analytics? You will be after scanning this data analytics salary guide. When you’re serious about getting a job, look into our 40-hour Intro to Data Analytics Course for total beginners, or our mentor-led Data Analytics Bootcamp.  

About Sakshi Gupta

Sakshi is a Managing Editor at Springboard. She is a technology enthusiast who loves to read and write about emerging tech. She is a content marketer with experience in the Indian and US markets.