Winner of the Eleanor Maccoby Book Award
“This engaging and well-written book is a significant advance in our understanding of when and how mentoring matters…[It] lays the foundations for an approach to mentoring that is both rigorous and rich in new ideas.”
—Robert D. Putnam, author of Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis
“Rhodes forces us to slam the brakes on ineffective practices and improve an industry that is devoted to the potential of our nation’s children…The author’s concrete recommendations will create new pathways to opportunity for youth in greatest need.”
—Michael D. Smith, Executive Director, My Brother’s Keeper Alliance
“A powerful assessment of what is needed to best help young people today.”
—Pam Iorio, President and CEO, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America
Youth mentoring is one of the most popular forms of volunteering in the world today, but does it work? Drawing on over thirty years of research and her own experience in the field, Jean Rhodes reveals that most mentoring programs fail to deliver what young people actually need. Many prioritize building emotional bonds between mentors and mentees. But research shows that effective programs go far beyond this, developing specific social, emotional, and intellectual skills.
Most mentoring programs rely on volunteers, who rarely have the training to teach these skills. Their one-size-fits-all models struggle to meet the diverse needs of mentees, and rarely take account of the psychological effects of poverty on children. Rhodes doesn’t think we should give up on mentoring—far from it. Instead, she recommends “organic” mentorship opportunities—in schools, youth sports leagues, and community organizations—and shares specific approaches that can spark meaningful change in young people’s lives.
Rhodes has demonstrated why she is regarded as the foremost authority on youth mentoring in the U.S. and internationally. Her singularly broad and deep knowledge of the science and her unparalleled understanding of the program and policy implications of mentoring research are crystallized magnificently in this important and timely book. Accessible to scholars, practitioners, students, parents, and other caregivers, this book will quickly be seen as a classic.
Rhodes is not only a pioneer in mentoring research but she has always looked around corners for where the power of relationships can be harnessed most effectively so our young people can thrive and strive. She sheds light on innovative approaches that can amplify and refine mentoring to do what it has the potential to do at its best: provide the connections that meet young people where they are with the personalized support we all need for healthy development.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. In Older and Wiser, Rhodes forces us to slam the brakes on ineffective practices; not to blame or criticize but to prove and improve an industry that is devoted to the potential of our nation’s children. We’re thrilled to watch how this candid new research and the author’s concrete recommendations will disrupt and redefine how to build social capital and create new pathways to opportunity for youth in greatest need.
This engaging and well-written book is a significant advance in our understanding of when and how mentoring matters. Mentoring is widely recommended as a strategy to help disadvantaged kids get a fairer start in life, but research has often failed to support that strategy, because of conceptual confusion about what ‘mentoring’ means. Jean Rhodes’s new book clears away this confusion and lays the foundations for an approach to mentoring that is both rigorous and rich in new ideas.
A wonderfully thoughtful, engaging, and interesting read. With a lifetime devoted to the study of mentoring, Rhodes delivers a powerful assessment of what is needed to best help young people today. She challenges us to consider a supportive accountability model focused on technology-delivered interventions that may significantly improve outcomes for mentees.
- 2023, Winner of the Eleanor Maccoby Book Award
- 240 pages
- 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
From this author
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