Learning by doing

Alex Tabbarok of Marginal Revolution thinks apprenticeships deserve more respect, as he links to and quotes from a Financial Times article about German apprenticeships. I agree.

According to the article, more than 40% of Germans become apprentices compared with 0.3% of Americans.

I think many Americans go through informal apprenticeships. It’s better known as on-the-job training. It’s just that we usually start these much later life than we need to. We should and could start at around 16 or 17 years old, but we generally delay it into the 20s occupying the ensuing 5 or 6 years with a heavy dose of marginally productive liberal arts programming sold on the notion it produces well-rounded individuals.

However, I’ve met plenty of well-rounded individuals who skipped the formal programming. They became well-rounded by pursuing their interests and fulfilling their curiosities, rather than checking off a list produced by unproductive do-gooders.

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3 thoughts on “Learning by doing

  1. Agreed! I own and run my own business because of the apprenticeship model that we practice in our school of martial arts. My teacher spent years teaching me not just technique, skill and self defense but also how to teach and how to manage students.

    Nine years later I opened my own school. It takes time but it makes for someone who knows what they are doing.

    I do love my liberal arts degree though. :)

    • Good story…thanks for sharing, Wally. I’m curious, why do you love your liberal arts degree?

      I struggle to see how I benefited from the liberal arts portions of my degree. I though most of it was stuff that was more suited for community education courses. I consider those requirements jobs programs for professors without any other marketable skills.

      • I enjoyed the meandering feel of getting a liberal arts degree. I didn’t have much of an idea of what I was looking to get out of college. I took a bunch of random classes – some of which I have completely forgotten but some of which became the starting point for many of my current interests.

        Here’s another way of putting it: before college, all I checked out of the library were sci-fi and fantasy books. Now I still read a healthy amount of sci-fi and fantasy but also a healthy dollop of philosophy, history, anthropology, politics… etc. The starting point of that change was my liberal arts degree. I’d like to think it widened my intellectual horizons a bit and made me a somewhat better rounded conversationalist. Not sure it furthered my career at all, though. :)

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