The Roots of Coaching and Mentoring – an exploration through the ages

Enjoy this article on the roots of coaching, the roots of mentoring and the roots of coaching and mentoring? BOTI offers coaching training programmes across South Africa. Book now!

 

Enjoy this article on the roots of coaching, the roots of mentoring and the roots of coaching and mentoring? BOTI offers coaching training programmes across South Africa. Book now!

The roots of coaching and mentoring – an exploration through the ages

In terms of the roots of coaching and mentoring during the course of history and throughout all societies, there have always been individuals who would invest their personal time to help others to achieve more than they would otherwise be able to do without such support.

Coaching and the Western philosophers

Looking back through the ages at the roots of coaching and mentoring, there have been many significant historical relationships that bear the mark of coach and mentor such as Socrates and Plato, Haydn and Beethoven and Freud and Jung.  The fathers of Western philosophy considered the transmission of experience to be a moral duty and the sharing of knowledge was in fact a matter of course.

Enjoy this article on the roots of coaching, the roots of mentoring and the roots of coaching and mentoring? BOTI offers coaching training programmes across South Africa. Book now!

For instance, Socrates believed knowledge to be the most valuable commodity an individual can possess and as a consequence should be shared for the good of the community.

The relationship of older teacher to student can be found not only in ancient Greece, indeed, it appears throughout the world at large.

By the Middle Ages, a system had emerged whereby apprentices would learn their trade under a master who had undergone the same process himself.  Often, a master was related to the apprentice, yet, on most occasions master and student were not related but the master was a skilled artisan who shared knowledge and skills with the apprentice in return for near-free labour.

The master craftsman as coach as part of the roots of coaching and mentoring

For many centuries, apprenticeship was invariably the only method by which advanced technical skills and knowledge were imparted to others.  Essentially, the master craftsman would ‘coach’ (or teach) the apprentice.  While often illiterate, the craftsman nevertheless taught by practical example as opposed to academic learning.

Medicine, law and government

Mentoring also took place in religious orders.  The disciplines of medicine, law and government were all taught in the same way, that is, a senior practitioner instructed his protégé.   Even as we are now into the 21st Century this model has not changed.  Apprenticeships still remain the principle form of technical training, formal apprenticeships now having been replaced with vocational training.

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Even today, in law and medicine, students are expected to work for a certain period of time under senior practitioners before they are considered to be fully qualified.  In universities, a senior professor takes on the classic mentor’s role with graduate students in sharing their knowledge and expertise to help students complete Master’s and doctorate theses.  Nor should we disregard the mentoring role played by members of the clergy as well as social workers and concerned volunteers who help people to cope with various personal problems.

The sporting world

In the sporting world coaching is a full-time commitment with the coach recruiting team members, helping athletes to improve and perfect their skills, advising on personal issues that interfere with their performance and directing their performance to achieve excellence.

Yet, coaching reaches far beyond the sporting arena.  Professional coaching is a critical element in the successful execution of any game plan.  Today’s view of coaching has evolved from the field of adult development which came about in the late 1950s.  While earlier work by psychologists such as Sigmund Freud, Alfred Adler, Car Jung, Erik Erikson and Roger Gould all pointed to the role that a coach could play in shaping people’s thinking as they progressed from one phase of development to the next, it was the study of normal and exceptional growth and development of adults that led to numerous professionals applying developmental psychologoy to guide people through significant transitions.

Enjoy this article on the roots of coaching, the roots of mentoring and the roots of coaching and mentoring? BOTI offers coaching training programmes across South Africa. Book now!

Clergy, social workers and volunteers as mentors

And we can’t forget the mentoring role played by members of the clergy, social workers, and concerned volunteers who act as mentors to help people to cope with a variety of personal problems. In sports, coaching is a full-time job, with the coach recruiting team members, helping athletes to perfect their skills, advising on personal problems that interfere with performance on the field, and directing performance to achieve excellence. But coaching extends well beyond the sports arena. Professional coaching is a fundamental element in any winning game plan. Today’s view of coaching evolves from the field of adult development which arose in the late 1950s. Although earlier work by psychologists like Sigmund Freud, Alfred Adler, Carl Gustav Jung, Erik H. Erikson, and Roger Gould pointed to the role that a coach could play in reframing people’s thinking as they moved from one phase of human development to another, it was the study of normal and extraordinary growth and development of adults that led to thousands of professionals applying developmental psychology to guide people through meaningful and successful transitions.

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