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Apprenticeship - 10 Ways To Be a Good Apprentice

Image: Apprenticeship; Source: GettyImages

Education, they have successfully classified into the three of formal, informal and semi-formal.
Formal education, as you may have known already, involves a well-established institution called a school where lessons and instructions are given in the form of subjects or courses for the purpose of training and retraining students in the acquisition of knowledge and skills.

Worldwide, educational systems revolve around the formal setting, with the informal and semi-formal grossly left in the hands of a class of people distinctly separated from the formal setting. Examinations and tests are devices employed to spur students to develop to the next stage of their learning and knowledge acquisition.

Let's take a look at what I termed "skilled workers". These are professionals who rely on some sets of skills, other than just the theoretical knowledge of what they do. This definition helps delineate formal and informal education into two parallel lines; one emphasizing "theoretical understanding" for the formal educational system and the other emphasizing "hands-on, apprenticeship way" of learning for the informal setting.
But with advancing systems of education and ever-increasing demands for better hands at the job, the non-convergent pathways of the informal and formal education system begin to get more inter-dependent at which phase, the formal system begin to share some attributes with the informal system and vice-versa. More like semi-formal. Don't you think so?

Apprenticeship is a learning method where the student observes the master and learn from them without having to write down notes or reading up large textbooks. It is a learning method among skilled professions like doctors, nurses, technicians, welders, fashion designers and manicure and pedicure beauticians etc. 
Apprenticeship centres on learning by looking, listening, focusing and submissively carrying our instructions that the master or teacher gives.

There is a peculiarity in how apprenticeship is demonstrated in different professional groups, however. Very professional fields like medicine, law, nursing, and others, rely partly on the theoretical, conventional school system to inculcate some knowledge into the students but the other part is always never accounted for without apprenticeship. That is to say that, apprenticeship is a natural requirement for mastery of every skill set you intend to embark on.

One of my little girls once confessed that she dared not stand doing nothing at work when her boss is around. When I asked her why she said so, she said her boss would always want everyone seen to be doing something. But that was not the first time I have heard that phrase "Be seen doing something".
As a matter of fact, that exact phrase was constantly repeated every time we were in the hospital during my medical school training. You have to be seen doing something. 

But come on, it looks like there is some power in this phrase if I could be hearing the exact same string of words on different occasions. And that is what we are going to find out here.

"Just Be Seen Doing Something"

Every profession has a part where practitioners of the profession would be required to step out of the textbook and notebook stuff and face reality as it is. This is where experience will be more important. Your mastery in such a situation will be based on how much you are able to apply the things that you know in real-life scenarios. Apprenticeship is the means through which the experiences of the elders in the profession and passed down to the younger generations. Some of those skills and experiences may not be explicitly written in most of the books that the student may have consulted and will consult. Thus, the importance of apprenticeship.

Apart from the skills that are transferred downstream the chain of learning in the professional organisation, other things like values, lifestyle lessons, principles, beliefs and methods can also be transferred from the master to the student.

How To Be a Good Apprentice

So far, good apprenticeship has been established as one of the best ways of learning and acquiring skills. Great apprentices who obviously did it right would have become so good by the end of the day that they can predict what their master would do even before he/she says a word.
If you know what the master knows, then you are as good as the master. And not to mention that some of the things you have acquired in your short time frame may have taken the master years of struggle and fruitless learning until the got it.
In essence, you grow beyond the bounds an even surpass your master in no time. This is a good thing and they are what every good master want for their students. But if you do not play the game right, you end up making your master believe that you are not worthy, or you may be absent-minded when your master really wants to equip you as much as he/she can.

Below are 10 ways you can be a good apprentice:
  1. Be present
  2. Be Submissive
  3. Be respectful
  4. Ask questions
  5. Attempt some tasks on permission after being taught
  6. Be obedient
  7. Be confident in yourself and your teacher
  8. Volunteer to help
  9. Forgive after being punished
  10. Love your teacher

Be Present

Being present entails being physically and mentally present when you are at your place of learning. The first step is to be physically present, attending lesson sessions, being physically available. But it does not end there, you also need to be mentally present. That means you must prepare your mind to think about things that concern your job as much as possible. This way, you get every lesson that comes to you from your teacher.
From the other perspective, being present gives your teacher the impression that you are ready to learn and hence, worthy to receive all the special skills he desires to impart to you. It sends the signals through your master's brain that you are indeed teachable.

Be Submissive

Submission is the act of showing that you have dropped whichever esteems that you may already possess so that you can learn. This can be a major challenge especially if your teacher is younger, smaller in many respects or if you are more learned in other skills than they are.
Submission is what guarantees that your teacher will teach you all there is that you need to know before you leave his training ground. The direct consequence of not being submissive to your teacher is that they would find a way to hold back some of their best knowledge because they fear that when you have the knowledge, your pomposity will make you look down on them.

Be Respectful

Submission goes with respect. When you respect your tutors, they are more willing to teach you at their best. As also seen in any relationship, respect gives you respect. No wonder they say respect is reciprocal. When you respect your teachers, they respect you too and that makes the whole learning environment more enjoyable for both you and them.
Respect also brings trust and when you have made your teacher(s) trust you very well, they are keener to reveal to you some of their worst professional mistakes in a way to forewarn you from repeating such mistakes.

Ask Questions When Confused

Asking questions can be annoying to who you are directing the questions to, especially if they are not willing to answer at that moment. But asking questions remains one of the best ways to clear your doubts and answer specific questions on your mind. 
It will be seen as loquacity or impulsive talking if your teacher begins to talk from now till the following day. Teachers often pause or just find a place to stop. This they do for two reasons;
  • To ascertain if you are following or not
  • To reduce the load of unnecessary information
From the first reason above, you see that there is room to make the teacher know how much you already understand from what he/she is currently teaching you. Your teachers' motivation drop when they realise that you are not picking up anything from what they have taught so far.
So when you ask questions, you are telling them that you are following but there are specific points you need to clarify. This shows that you have been attentive and that makes your teacher be more interested in teaching you than when you do no ask questions at all.
Even the best-intentioned teachers would want to first find an attentive ear before they pour out their most valuable information. You declare your interest when you display the attitude of inquisitiveness.

Attempt Some Tasks on Permission After Being Taught

Most teachers would never let their students take up some tasks that are too big or dangerous for them. For example, a surgeon would not let the student doctor just take up a surgery yet. This is because the student needs to be prepared to take up any task that requires practising what he/she has been learning.
Your preparedness is often measured in two ways;
  • How much you know already
  • How much you are prepared to handle the task
Sometimes, your teacher may not even permit you to handle it at first attempt but be rest assured that someday he/she would finally succumb to your persuasions. 
Practice makes perfect, we all know but what this actually means is that you can know a lot of the theories without actually being able to apply them. 
For some skills-sets, it is important to eliminate fear and one major way to do that is to ask for opportunities to try out what you have learnt. But as a rule, start with the first thing first.

Be Obedient

This partly encroaches into respect and submission. How would you feel if you tell your student to perform a given task which looks so absurd but unknowingly to them, it will form part of the training they receive under you, and then, they ask you for the reason why you are telling them to carry out that task? Sometimes, your teacher can deliberately or as a punishment, ask you to do some daunting tasks. And when you carry it out the way they instructed, you earn a star of trust but on the other way round, you get distrust if you disobey.

Build Confidence In Yourself And Your Teacher

When you do what you are asked to do the way you are asked to do it, your teacher develops more confidence in you. They are convinced that you can do things rightly. This is a conscious effort because, although your knowledge and understanding boost your confidence, your conscious effort to trust yourself and your teacher is what will get you ready to move on from one stage to another.
Hence, you must learn to do things right in their own prescriptions so that they can be sure that you will do it the right way when they are not around. This idea is also seen in this leadership post.

Volunteer To Help

Apprenticeship conventionally means you just learn by observation. However, you can take it a step further by volunteering to help when you perceive that a given task is going to be somewhat overwhelming for your master at the moment.

Forgive After Being Punished

Actually, the apprenticeship has no justifiable rights to hold on to grudges after punishment or disciplinary measures. These measures form part of every good learning process, and the student must try as much as possible to distinguish them from mere acts of directed hatred towards them.
Those measures are important but in the students perspective, some of those may be unnecessary but whatever is the case, you must learn to take your punishments in good faith remembering that soon you will also be a teacher someday.
Failure to clear your mind like this may make you turn your mind away from everything your teacher has to teach you. This may come gradually and if you keep storing stuff in your mind, you will definitely realise that you have lost interest in receiving any lessons or experiences from them, thus robbing yourself of that opportunity.

Love Your Teacher

One of the greatest law of learning I have encountered is the law of affection, which emphasizes that you must deliberately love your teachers and the subject of your training to achieve the greatest learning. I guess I should have mentioned this point first but it is not bad saving the best for last too. What you must always remember is that you cannot learn effectively from someone you hate because when you hold on to the hatred, you program your brain to reject everything that comes from that person. 

Why Is Apprenticeship So Important?

Learning by apprenticeship is a strictly recommended learning method across all professional climes. Many handcrafts rely fully on apprenticeship as the only means of knowledge transfer, but in some professions, it could the most important adjunct in the learning system.
Below are some reasons why learning by apprenticeship is important for learning;
  • It consolidates theoretical knowledge.
  • Inculcates values and ethics into the student.
  • Creates a bond between student and teacher.
  • You learn more than what the books teaches.
  • Also inculcates managerial abilities into the student.
  • Creates a ground for recommendation by your teacher having known what you are capable of.

Prosper Yole

I am a lifestyle blogger, I write useful articles on successful life tips and hacks. Posts bearing Prosper Yole as author are either written by the blog author himself or by our various other contributors. Thank you for reading through. I look forward to having you more often. Please subscribe to my blog and follow me on Twitter @ProsperYoleOfficial

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