The questionnaire is done and depending on the students I expect to encounter my answer changed. Here I should mention that I’m not a teacher by training but have considerable experience working with construction industry apprentices. Having worked in a number trades it would be nice to say that the peculiarities of the task (carpentry or sheet metal for instance) or the conditions of work site are the defining differences in teaching strategy. In reality, my experience says the major differences are in apprentice learners. Being connected or disconnected to the apprentice counts way more than the task to be demonstrated.
The advantage to teaching apprentices over a general selection of students who show up in class is that the apprentice is there to learn to replace you. What could be easier than transferring your knowledge to them like you were running a photocopy of all you know?
• What you “know” is not always well understood or conveniently categorized
• As a hands-on people, trades practitioners often have trouble transferring actions to words
• Apprentices often come to you conditioned to struggle with content by the school system. The confident ones compensate by adopting an “attitude”, the others just go silent
• Most times, as a journeyman you are expected to maintain or raise your level of productivity while training. No accommodation for the inexperience of the apprentice actually slowing you down and no recognition that teaching is any more complex than show and tell.
In spite of all this the system somehow “works” to train the next generation of trades. That said, there being no real effort put into designing trades training, the whole process is best described as random human interaction that somehow produces some sort of result.
Not all is hopeless though and my goal is to develop some strategies in this course to turn training into a more deliberate process.