Apprenticeship / by kevin murray

In the United States it is compulsory for all citizens to attend school until at least the age of 16, unless said student is incorrigible, in which case he may be expelled earlier.  Having attended school, it is clear that there are some "students" who simply aren't interested, aren't motivated and aren't engaged with their scholastic studies.  The fact that day after day they sit in the class either bored, disruptive, or worse, isn't the best usage of their time nor is it fair to the other students in the class.  While I do applaud any programs, teachers, and student assistants, that do attempt to motivate these reluctant students, there are definitely many cases to which nothing will work for them because they simply don't have the tools, the desire, of the maturity to do well within this educational environment.


The fact of the matter is that school is not necessarily the best place for all teenagers in America and will never be.  While I can think of several things that will help to motivate teenagers, near the very top of this list has to be the ability to make money.  Most people of any age, understand that money has value, has utility, is desirable, and if there is a path that will bring forth money to them, they are at a minimum interested in at least pursuing it for some duration of time and perhaps for much, much longer.


What has fallen out of favor in America is apprenticeships, to which in lieu of going to school, or even attending a trade-school, one can learn the art of a particular craft, be it plumbing, home repair, carpentry, or other tradecraft, from an expert tradesmen in his particular field of endeavor.  There are many people who have little natural skill or desire in book reading, or have the patience of sitting still in school, but have a natural aptitude for working with things with their hands and/or tools, and have a good conception of how things go together while also appreciating the art of a craft that brings forth immediate results, such as seeing a sink that is stopped and non-working, that is  brought back to life as if it was new, all in the span of a few minutes or an hour or two.


The best time to grab a teenager's mind is while he is still interested in learning, still amazed by certain things that later on he won't care about or will be cynical of.  It would be far better to have programs initiated within schools, or within communities, that allow teenagers to opt-out of school earlier, or to allow them to reduced their school hours, while giving them the opportunity at a young age instead to be mentored by an experienced and skilled tradesmen to thereby learn a craft that will give them the chance to make their own money and to be their own person with valuable self-worth in the future.


No doubt, apprenticeships will not work out for everyone under every circumstance, but when students have already begun to tune out of school, or are tuned out, for one reason or another, there is only a short period of time to re-engage this teenager to apply himself to something of real worth, before he in essence becomes a ward of the state, for the rest of his natural life.  We would be far better off recognizing that mentorship is essential for our youth, and that not everyone is ever going to be, nor desires to be college material, so why not provide a real alternative path, and bring back apprenticeships.