The benefits of hands-off mentoring
AnthonyEnglish 270000RKFN Visits (2827)
From time to time I'm asked to give a basic introduction to some aspect of AIX for someone who has no Unix hands-on experience at all. No matter how easy I might think a task is, it really can be daunting to someone who has never done it before, or even seen it done. The temptation is sometimes to show a beginner just how quickly and cleverly I can do something, while the poor student is patiently watching over my shoulder and taking notes.
I was showing someone how to assign a CD-ROM to an LPAR using DLPAR and then mount the file system. (Yes, there are times when I don't use the VM Library!) After he took very detailed notes I undid everything and handed the system over to him to do it again. As he asked various questions, I provided the helpful advice: "I'm not here", although I did promise to
if he did
Making more sense
This hands-off approach to mentoring is, in my opinion, a very effective way of teaching. It builds the student's own confidence because he has actually done the task on his own system, rather than just watched or done it in a lab. It also reinforces the commands and procedures he needs to take. He gets to use more than his sense of sight and hearing to digest the new material. The bit of pressure or anxiety about not having done something before can help the student focus on the task more than he would as an onlooker. That's got to make it easier to remember.
Working my way out of a job
As an AIX contractor doing the rounds of various companies in Sydney, I sincerely aim to do myself out of a job. Teach a man to fish and all that. I don't try to protect my turf (if you'll pardon the mixed metaphor). I'd much rather show a client how to do something, why to do it and walk away knowing they feel themselves equipped to the task. Is that a smart sales approach? I don't think of it like that but in the long term, yes, I think it does make sense. New customers don't come too easily, but existing ones who trust you just keep calling.
When 10 is worth more than 20
Reminds me of a young boy who was offered two coins by some older boys. One coin was 20 cents, the other 10 cents. He chose the 10 cents and pocketed it. His poor commercial judgment proved to be such a great party trick that the other boys wanted to see him do it again so another 10 cent coin appeared. Don't know how long it took the older boys to realise that sometimes the shortsighted approach pays in the end, but the young boy went home with pockets full of their 10 cent pieces.