Multiple Paths to Learning?

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.

How2become was established by Richard McMunn in 2005, who was working as a Fire Officer for Kent Fire & Rescue Service at the time. Since writing his first book, how to become a firefighter, Richard has gone on to author various titles spanning across multiple careers. The company has grown and developed into the UK’s leading careers information and development website. Connect with How2become on Facebook

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  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!




This article first appeared on Ed That Matters.

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Todd Sepulveda

I'm the owner/editor of Prepper Website, a DAILY preparedness aggregator that links to the best preparedness articles on the internet. I'm also a public school administrator and a pastor. My personal blog is Ed That Matters, where I write about preparedness and from time to time, education. Connect with me on one of my social media outlets below.

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3 thoughts on “Multiple Paths to Learning?

  1. Lynn

    Todd, maybe you can give me a bit of advice for someone I’d like to help. A young guy, mid 20s, was home-schooled, then enrolled in public school in the 9th grade. This guy did not have a strong math education so he could not keep up. Consequently, he dropped out of school. To date, he still does not have a high school degree or even the GED.

    He has talked extensively with me and honestly wants to advance himself but is stuck with having a very poor math skill set. He wants to go to college. He works full time and realizes he is facing a dead-end proposition without an education or a good skill. I am willing to help him but unsure how to progress. Since I’ve homeschooled my own boys at some points, I know how to use the County resources and the book repository is open to residents. I’d like to determine his base level and then get him into at least basic algebra to see if he has the aptitude for the hard sciences and math. (He is very artistic so I’m unsure about his left-brain….lol).

    Got any suggestions to get an assessment? There’s a local community college here — thought about getting him to contact a counselor but without even a GED, he may have the doors slammed in his face, discouraging him even more. Sad thing, though, he has the right attitude, great family and friend support, and is motivated to learn. I don’t want to see this kid slip through the cracks. He is a good kid.

    Thanks for any input!

    1. Todd Post author


      This young man is sure lucky to have someone like you to be willing to help him out. Here are my thoughts and what I would recommend.

      The first thing he needs to do is go get the GED. Most employers can overlook, or give a second chance, to someone who has a GED vs a high school diploma. But I would think that they would look at not having at least a GED as just someone who is lazy. If I remember correctly, I think GED math is on an 8th or 9th grade level.

      With a GED, he can go to the local community college and take a placement test, at least this is the way it works in Texas. That placement test will more than likely show his weakness in Math and thus show his advisor that he needs to take remedial math classes. Actually, many students who go to community college need to do this anyway. So, they have many classes available.

      When I took the GRE to get into graduate school, I picked up a piece of software from Half Price Books that cost $5. It was a little dated, but the software gave me a pretest and then took me through models that I needed a refresher on. I’m sure there is something like that for GED. He could work at home on a computer before he actually goes to take the GED.

      I actually found this one on Amazon. It’s not $5, but definitely worth the look…it has good reviews.

      Excellent Book…My daughter did pass GED studying from it
      My children are all home educated. My oldest is now 22 and decided she wants to study graphic arts at the local technical school. She needed the GED to get in. So we bought this book and for 2 weeks studied together for about 2 hrs. a day in the math section, for Math was always my daughter’s weak area. I felt the math chapters were very well laid out and each concept…

      I hope this helps. Please keep us updated!


  2. Lynn

    Todd, thanks so much. After reading your words, I checked further into the GED requirements for Virginia, which led me to more information. I found free Adult Basic Education classes offered here at the local college. This is great news!! I have printed out some info so that he can proceed forward to find out more on class offerings. Maybe he can register for Winter classes.

    I also looked at the GED book and added it to my Amazon wish list for a reference.

    I’d love to see this fellow succeed in life and now I know the programs are there for him. Thanks again.

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