Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore. A character known throughout the world as a kind and gentle man, with brilliant intellect and who saw the best in everybody, even if they had travelled too far down the path of darkness.
When J.K Rowling was writing the character of Dumbledore, did she realise she would create one of the best mentors fiction could ask for? Only the likes of J.R.R Tolkien could achieve this. This blog will look at Dumbledore’s skill as a mentor and why he stands out.
Let’s first begin with Dumbledore in the Philosopher’s Stone. When we are introduced to him, Dumbledore is read as a knowledgeable and kind man. He leaves Harry with his awful relatives, knowing he will be safe there. We later learn Dumbledore has turned down the Minister of Magic job multiple times, choosing to stay as headmaster of Hogwarts instead. He keeps an eye on Harry during his first year at Hogwarts and later talks to him privately in the Hospital Wing. However, Dumbledore avoids talking about the most important of subjects.
What does this tell us? Although you might not think it, the first book speaks volumes about Dumbledore’s mentoring. He does not care about his own personal success, wanting to focus on helping the young witches and wizards. He will do what is right, even if it’s the hardest route for the mentee. Dumbledore also knows when and how to give certain information to his mentees, holding back if he feels they are not ready to hear it.
Throughout the Harry Potter series, we learn Dumbledore makes arrangements for unfortunate students. He convinced the previous Hogwarts headmaster to make Hagrid groundskeeper after being wrongly expelled. He allowed Remus Lupin, a werewolf, to attend the school as a child, giving him the same opportunities as other young people. He also hired Lupin as a teacher for a year, though much of the staff were against this. This shows Dumbledore wanted people to succeed even when the world was against them and did this by presenting opportunities.
Moving onto Dumbledore’s relationship with Harry, this is perhaps the best example of mentoring you can find. It isn’t until the fourth book where we see this relationship start blooming. When Harry is entered into the Triwizard Tournament, Dumbledore is immediately concerned. He believes Harry when the boy says he didn’t enter himself. Harry goes to Dumbledore about his strange dreams, the headmaster listening with interest. After Lord Voldemort returns, Dumbledore again believes Harry’s story without doubt and puts into motion plans to slow down the villain.
In the fifth book, Dumbledore repeatedly comes under fire because of his insistence that Voldemort has returned. However, Dumbledore continues to try and change his doubters’ minds, never giving in. He also, again, keeps secrets from Harry, and after the first major battle of the renewed war, reveals everything he knows, unable to hide the truth any longer and knowing Harry is now ready. He even confesses he didn’t make Harry a prefect because he felt Harry had too much on his plate and didn’t want to add more, showing he places a mentee’s well-being above all else.
Let’s stop here and reflect. Dumbledore automatically trusts his mentee, though many others believe Harry to be lying for attention. Throughout his years as a teacher and mentor, Dumbledore had earned the respect and trust of many of his former students. As Neville Longbottom says when quoting his grandmother about Voldemort, “If Dumbledore says he’s back, he’s back.”
It can be hard for mentors for earn trust and respect sometimes, but Dumbledore proves that as long as you are truthful, trusting, and respectful to your mentees, they will quickly repay it.
In the sixth book, Dumbledore’s mentoring is taken to new heights. He holds personal one to one meetings with Harry about Voldemort and even sets him a task to get a certain memory, knowing Harry has the influence he does not. Dumbledore brings Harry along with him on a dangerous mission and the two put their full faith in one another. We also see how painful it is for Harry to see his mentor under immense pain, both physically and mentally. Harry sees Dumbledore as a grandfather figure and somebody he can talk to, and therefore Harry feels the weight of Dumbledore’s death much harder than others.
Why is the sixth book so important in terms of mentoring? There is an easy answer to this. Imagine you are having a meeting with a mentee and you are preparing for a job interview at Tesco. To get the highest chance of success, you will want to cover as many bases as possible, starting from what to do at the beginning of the interview, to how to finish it, explaining things to ensure they understand. Dumbledore does this by showing Harry memories before Voldemort was born right up to the villain talking about horcruxes. In other words, Harry knows enough to succeed in getting the Tesco job. Dumbledore also doesn’t help Harry with getting the final memory, giving Harry key problem solving skills.
In conclusion, Dumbledore’s mentoring is extraordinary and stands out because he is a mentor who pushes his mentees to become confident and successful. He doesn’t react with anger. He trusts and respects his students, staff, friends, and acquaintances and this trust and respect are returned tenfold. He has earned such a reputation that some people believe him without question. He offers opportunities that some students and adults desperately need.
He treats his enemies as he treats everybody, with the utmost respect. Just before his death, Dumbledore is still talking in a friendly and polite manner. He wishes to reach out and save people, getting them to their goals, and not satisfied with simply giving up on them. Dumbledore is ready to listen to the concerns of his students and friends, giving them encouraging advice. He sees everybody as equal, from Muggles to Death Eaters, no matter their background. Ultimately, he simply cares for people and makes them feel calm and safe.
Albus Dumbledore is the mentor all mentoring should be based on. So whenever you feel stuck when mentoring, simply think to yourself what Dumbledore would do.
“We must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.”