reverse mentoring

my husband kelly – the techie genius of the family – and i have been talking a lot lately about technology and how it plays a central role in the development of children and students.  our dinner conversations have consisted mostly of this topic lately (and of course, over dinner we talk about how wonderful my cooking tastes!)  – as we are both increasingly interested in how technology and media is consistently shaping faith. i have a lot of thoughts that i hope to share in the upcoming weeks – but for now, i’ll start with just one thought that has been on my mind lately.

the concept of reverse mentoring

the term is too new for wikipedia to yet define, but basically means that instead of a typical mentoring relationship that consists of the older generation passing on knowledge to the younger generation – the mentoring happens from the younger to older generation. because millennials have grown up in a media savy, tech centered culture – they are now the experts when it comes to social networks, digital learning, texting, and online communications. i’ve read a lot of articles that highlight how businesses are utilizing the reverse mentoring concept in order to advance their company’s digital presence. but i think the future of reverse mentoring is far more than just kids teaching adults how to use their computers better.

because i believe technology is changing our culture far more than we ever expected. new rules, new roles and new patterns are developing each day. our ways of interacting with each other are being radically re-defined, as is the way we learn – how can it not change when we can basically learn anything we want by the click of a button. as my husband is famous for saying, “‘i don’t know’ is an irrelevant phrase – the internet prevents us from not knowing information, all we have to do is look for it.”

i’m excited for the ways in which our churches will grow into places that encourage and empower children to lead, model and teach adults in faith and love.

follow up resources: i recently found a book geared towards the church on this topic – looks interesting, my friend matt guevara taught a workshop called rewiring ministry for the digital learner, and a great article on how businesses are using reverse mentoring.


6 responses to this post.

  1. Amy –
    Obviously, I’m an evangelist for the digital learning in the church – especially as it relates to children and families. You’ve tersely hit the nail on the head. The technological changes in the culture are the central methodological issue for children’s and family ministry in the days/years to come. What are we going to do with technology? But like Shane Hipps (who echoes Marshall McLuhan) proposes, these issues speak to much more than methodology. The conversation about digital learning and digital learners will include the discussion of values, ethics, doctrine (message), pedagogy, and leadership. This is a discussion that many formal groups (like Group Publishing) have started, but few real public resources have emerged with distinct findings and conclusions for people in our field. Hopefully, blogs like this and other research will provide a helpful corrective.


  2. Amy, Great blog post! One thought that immediately comes to mind is the 3 types of mentoring / leading that take place: Downward, Upward & Across. I can lead downward by bringing someone along with me as I follow Christ (for me this primarily is taking place with my 5 kids).

    I can also lead upward – say to my boss who occasionally could use some advice from one of his subordinates. Finally I lead across with my peers “as Iron sharpens iron.” My oldest son, who is 7, already knows how to operate a computer better than his grandparents (but not better than me, yet 🙂 ).

    God Bless


  3. There’s a great post by Christopher Seesums about learning and how our students impact us (as teachers). Check it out –

    He even mentions McLuhan.


  4. Posted by amyedolan on April 29, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    matt – great thoughts! i’m anxious for new public resources to emerge, as you said, seems like we are having great conversations – but i’m anxious for practical applications. i would love to hear your specific thoughts around this!
    and thanks for the link – great post!

    dean – i like what you said about the different ways in which mentoring happens: downward, upward and across. wouldn’t this be a fantastic principle to apply to the way we experience faith together? to filter our spiritual growth thru: what am i learning from those i report to, those who report to me, and those i work together with? seems like we would have new avenues for growth!


  5. Brilliant. But who is going to volunteer to be Mentored by teh younger generation? That is a bitter pill to swallow in your 50’s or 60’s! (maybe even 40’s)…


    Keep thinking!


  6. […] amyedolan @ 2:55 pm thank you for your comments and incredible interest in the last post, “reverse mentoring.” i know technology, spiritual formation of children and social media are topics many of us are […]


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