Sunday, June 21, 2009

the age of apprenticeship?

From Charles A. Bennett, History of Manual and Industrial Education prior to 1870:
"In the days when the old apprenticeship system was most effective it was under the strict regulation of the gilds which were composed of master craftsmen, no journeyman or apprentice being admitted. In this respect they differed from the modern trade unions. When these gilds were gradually broken down by the development of the factory system, as they were in England, the regulating body of the apprenticeship system passed out also, for the British government was not prepared immediately to take their place..."
One thing you can see in the shift from apprenticeship to more modern factory technology was the rise of unskilled labor. That meant that employers no longer benefited from the advances in general intelligence and knowledge of their workers... Who gave a damn about lifelong learning? As long as they could insert tab "A" in slot "A" and not "B" by mistake, they could do the job and bring profits to their employers.

Under the gild system, employers had responsibilities to train their future competition and thus encourage the rise of culture and community. I am bringing this up in relation to my earlier post in which I asked readers to consider the question of how to develop a rationale for corporations to take on the role of encouraging employee participation in crafts.

It is odd, when I visit my daughter in New York to see such marked contrast between the financial district and the outer boroughs. You walk a few blocks from Columbia and you will discover the face of poverty. I believe that when employers no longer shared the responsibility for the intellectual development of their employees, we gained great efficiency at huge cost to our culture and our democracy. This is Father's Day. Beyond the immediate family, there once were "fathers of community" "founding fathers" who took an interest in community growth. Once those fathers were the same ones who brought employment and fostered personal growth. I believe that right now would be the perfect time to challenge employers to step up to the plate. I am lobbing slow pitch and if they give a damn or maybe two, they can hit right out of the park. And in the next couple days I invite my readers to comment. Brain storm with me. Share your ideas and then I will share a few of my own.

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