Attitude is sometimes what the rest of us get from those fortunate enough to have been in an apprentice program for their craft. Among the things they criticize is the self-instructed’s lack of planned tuition that they received at the hands of the “Master.”
The truth is that no apprenticeship program was available for many of us, and we either hobbled together an educational plan for ourselves, no matter how flimsy or did not pursue something about which we were passionate. I hobbled together my woodcarving from books, many visits to museums, and several mentors who stood in for masters at critical junctures.

Besides, apprenticeships are not a panacea for all the problems you’ll run into in a craft. For example, I’ve known several who could not financially run their shop because their master had no clue about keeping books or filing forms when needed. Remember, Masters, teach you what they know. If they don’t know it, they don’t teach it, or if they were just not too good at something, that gets passed on to the student.

These days there are still things that you can’t learn from online videos, books, or fumbling around in the workshop. That’s where the many craft schools excel. An evening, weekend, or week-long class gives you the experience under an instructor to add that slight touch to your work that brings that technique into focus, whether you are trying to carve a Samuel McIntyre fruit basket or crochet something special.

To some extent, for the intent student, we are living in an optimal environment for gaining mastery. You are no longer restricted to one instructor and their styles. Through print, video, and classes, you can explore and master many things.

The traditional apprenticeship has probably met its match. Those who will not adapt will be the ones who will be deprived.

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