Editor’s Note – This is a guest post. Please read below for some thoughts of my own.
Formal education (classroom) is the predominant form of learning in the world today, at least in the post-industrialized world. But the fact is that effective learning is not the monopoly of a top down institutional approach to education. In fact, the more we look into this, it is becoming increasingly evident that there may be other more effective ways of teaching and interaction that try to look at students as individuals rather than a cohort and encourage the development of their unique strengths.
We have seen the pitfalls of the mainstream education system, where the entire point of learning is often only to secure gainful employment. As such, the real strengths, interests and passions of an individual may be ignored. Also, as mainstream education becomes more and more expensive, it becomes all the more important only to learn in the field that pays more. As someone said, the entire system of education, at any given stage becomes only about preparing for some kind of entrance exam!
The alternative education movement is gaining momentum, and has taken different forms across the globe. Thought is being put into new and more innovative ways to form partnerships for learning and working. One such innovative way is to do local apprenticeships with skilled tradesmen and tradeswomen. (Editor’s Note – This USED to be the “formal” form of education)
This can be a very useful way to get personal hands-on experience working with someone with experience and knowledge. In the traditional sense, apprenticeships involve learning in exchange for working. So rather than paying for education, it is more like a bartering system, where you work with someone and learn from them at the same time.
The world is still trying to cope with the aftermath of the global economic crisis. People are increasingly realizing the strength of smaller and more local economies rather than big business. As such, there is a renewed interest in crafts, trades and skills that once were prevalent in societies.
The interest is by no means confined to traditional trades, but also encompasses very current skills, for instance web design or web development. The point is that there seems to be a growing enthusiasm for individual creativity and work, rather than an industrial view of ‘work’.
Another advantage of learning a trade or craft is that it can be a good way to learn a skill with which you can progress in your career and make new strides; especially if the alternative is being trapped in an entry level job for a big company or corporation with no real scope of progress.
Apprenticeships are a great way to learn skills and more a matter of ‘learning by doing’, rather than learning in a classroom with hypothetical scenarios. So how does one go about getting an apprenticeship? There may be different ways to do this depending on the skill or craft one wants to learn. For instance, if you know someone you’d like to learn from, one way would be to get in touch with them and discuss your thoughts and what you can contribute in exchange for the apprenticeship.
Another way to go about it would be to find out if there are any organizations or consortiums of companies offering apprenticeships. Very often, companies or organizations may initiate apprenticeship programs in order to foster the right kind of training and the skills they might find difficult to find in the industry. This type of learning can be an alternative to joining a formal trade school and could be just as effective and may even provide a more thorough and in depth view of the industry.
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Editor’s Note – I agree that formal education is not suited for everyone. In fact, as an educator, I know that students need many different “paths” to learning. They have tried to come up with alternatives: online learning, homeschool, etc… These alternatives work well for some, but not for everyone.
Ultimately, you need to be responsible for your learning. And maybe, you need to think about acquiring skills vs a piece of paper that said you put in the time. I would like to point you to a new site called 13skills.com. The site was put together by Jack Spirko of The Survival Podcast. The site is centered around a “community” of people who want to acquire new skills in 2013 and people who want to share what they know. Here is a description from the site:
“The 13 in 13 Challenge is a call to develop or drastically improve your personal skills in the coming year. These skills can be any hands on practical skill from ancient skills like flint napping to traditional skills like trapping and hunting or even technical skills like graphic arts or computer programming.
Our modern society has become a world of specialists who can do one thing very well but can no longer accomplish simple tasks like growing a garden, changing a tire or fixing a hole in wall.”
No matter where you find yourself, learn something! It’s one of the things that THEY can’t take away!