Student Column

My name is Maxine Stephenson and I am a student member of the Centre for Education Research and Scholarship committee based in the Education Department.  I am a second year, full-time PhD student supported by the supervisory team of Dr Nathan Fretwell, Dr Leena Robertson and Dr Rima Saini.  My research is a critical exploration of current mentoring practice within education for Black Caribbean males (BCMs) from a critical race theory (CRT) perspective.

I am interested in exploring the potential mentoring provides in terms of raising achievement, aspirations and self-esteem for BCMs in education, and the way mentoring functions.  The theoretical perspective I have taken is the position of a critical race theorist to explore this phenomenon.  Adopting CRT as a framework by recognising and addressing racism is to encourage equitable practices in education.   This work will also be valuable for other faculties such as law and medicine in acknowledging and taking account of racial inequalities.

My journey of the last year has seen me move from a position of asking what works in the mentoring space to questioning more critically:  how is it working? There is much about mentoring to be celebrated because of its intrinsic value, but my research will also explore problematic elements.  I will look at how BCMs are identified and recruited for mentoring, and the perceptions and outcomes held by mentors and mentees. 

We are all living in a rapidly changing world with post-Brexit and post-pandemic having had a significant impact.  We have faced challenges but also experienced successes in what some may describe as a ‘good lockdown’ for them.  I had an initial nervousness about lockdown. I wondered if things would ever be the same again in terms of how we interact with and relate to one another and,  especially educationally, learn together.   I am pleased to say that I feel very much a part of the MDX Post Graduate Research Community as I have attended and contributed to many informative and useful PhD training online events over the past academic year, including the Research Training Café.  This provides an excellent opportunity not only to meet existing and new research students but share research and ideas.  In addition, I have had an opportunity to reflect on how valuable my research is for teacher education and education studies, thinking of how best I can put my research to work so it is useful to the community I serve.

I invite all students at Middlesex and other Higher Education institutions to contribute their ideas, thoughts, stories and share learning experiences.  If there are any questions you would like to raise, answers you can offer or any ideas you feel the organisation could benefit from, please let us know.  We’d love to hear from you.

Have a wonderful academic year.


Maxine Stephenson – Student member of the Centre for Education Research and Scholarship committee based in the Education Department at Middlesex University