In a recent CNN profile of Senator Barbara Mikulski, she noted that when she came to the senate 24 years ago, she realized that with each new woman elected to the Senate she had a new opportunity to mentor and teach her new colleague the ropes. There were plenty of men, who Mikulski thought embodied more of the “every man for himself” philosophy, so she thought that the few women working there should work and even socialize together to share experiences and to form bonds. She described it as “each one, teach one,” a phrase that I found intriguing. I wondered where it came from. Turns out, the phrase “each one, teach one” is African in origin and it still has roots in the African-American community. The notion that if someone is marginalized, they could reach their potential with some mentorship and guidance from someone who is already where they want to go.
In an organizational communication course I’m teaching in Spring I ask students to interview three people who have jobs or careers that they admire. I’m hoping that by reaching out to these accomplished professionals they see a glimpse of their future selves. Even non-traditional students with years of work experience under their wings can get a sense of a change they’d like to make or a path worth pursuing in the future by interviewing professionals whom they admire. Really, at the heart of this assignment is the same thing Senator Mikulski is talking about: “each one, teach one.”
I think that the Internet is a useful way for people to connect, if not in person, then across cyberspace. This is a handy list of great Web sites for women. Everything from health, technology and fiction advice, it is worth a look to get caught up on information you like or need.
I’m not big on New Year’s Resolutions, (OK, I want to learn Chinese and to ballroom dance) but in general I want to embody the spirit of teaching and learning in every facet of my life in 2011. I know that there are people out there I could learn from and I hope that I could teach not only in the classroom but in my daily life.
To Senator Mikulski on her leadership and inspiration! She made me think of how “each one can teach one” in the new year and beyond!
Happy Teaching and Learning to You and Yours!