Week 2

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.

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  • Rachele DeMeo  On September 13, 2012 at 2:54 PM

    I liked reading your post. I agree with a lot you wrote regarding how the content, format and such changes depending on the students and class we teach. I could see in my own classes how depending on the level and exact subject (French Grammar/Vocabulary/Language versus French Literature for instance), I’d format my class very differently.

  • Scott Johnsonscottx5  On September 13, 2012 at 5:10 PM

    Thanks for the feedback Rachele, as a kid it seemed like the teachers were simply repeating a worn out course plan they’d given every year for decades. It was as if we had walked into a movie part way through. The actors on the screen had no idea we were there (how could they) and since the ending was already known what difference did it make? More than changing delivery by topic, I think teachers who strive to make a real difference adjust their content like a good author does to fit the audience.

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