The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Mentoring as Sustainable Lifewide Practice

Michelann Parr, Schulich School of Education, Nipissing University (Canada)


Over the course of my educational career, I have become unsatisfied with Canada’s formal education system, which is not a lot different than the rest of the world. I have often mused about the future of education and what would happen if education – lifelong and lifewide – was reconceived as a process characterized by reciprocity, holistic, inclusive, care, and nonhierchical relationships, more along the lines of mentoring. Honouring my belief that we should never ask our students to do something we are unwilling to do ourselves, my Deweyan and experiential education roots (1916), and my foundation in pedagogies of care (Noddings, 1995), I embarked on a single-semester mentoring project alongside my graduate studies. In this presentation, I recount my key learnings, aha moments, take aways, challenges, struggles, and successes. Conceptualizing mentoring as supportive practice, I draw from the eight limbs of yoga as conceived by Patanjali (Iyengar, 1991; Stone, 2009), sustainable education principles and practices (Sterling, 2001), and my quest for an undivided and vulnerable life (Brown, 2012; Palmer, 2004). I argue that mentoring values and practices develop along a continuum that can be fostered in socio-cultural spaces that recognize the need to start where we are with the support of a more knowledgeable other (Vygotsky, 1978) as well as the need to foster mentoring relationships that are grounded in respect, reciprocity, responsibility, and relevance (Kirkness & Barnhardt, 2001). A case is made for reconceiving education as mentoring from cradle to grave wherein our ultimate purpose - formal and informal, intentional and incidental, theory and practice, home and school - is to develop a sustainable and supportive self, family, community, and world that reaches lifewide and lifelong across diverse cultural, social, and educational contexts (Clark, 2005).



adult education, reciprocal mentoring, teaching as mentoring, mentoring as reflective practice



Brown, B. (2015). Daring greatly: How the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead. Avery.

Clark, T. (2005). Lifelong, life-wide, or life sentence. Australian Journal of Adult Learning, 45(1), 47-62.

Dewey, J. (1916). Democracy and education. Retrieved from

Iyengar, B. K. S. (2001), Light on yoga: The definitive guide to yoga practice. Harper Collins.

Kirkness, V. J. & Barnhardt, R. (2001). First Nations and higher education: The four Rs - respect, relevance, reciprocity, responsibility. Retrieved from

Noddings, N. (1995). Teaching themes of care, Phi Delta Kappan, 76(9), 675-679.

Palmer, P. (2009). A hidden wholeness: The journey toward an undivided life. Jossey-Bass.

Sterling, S. (2001). Sustainable education: Re-visioning learning and change. Green Books.

Stone, M. (2009). Yoga for a world out of balance: Teachings on ethics and social action. Shambhala.

Vygotsky, L. (1978). The mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Harvard University Press.


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