According to Burns (99), learning is comparatively permanent change in behavior, whereby behavior is the observable activity as well as internal processes such as attitudes, thinking and emotions. Burns holds that learning may not show itself in observable behavior immediately the educational program has happened. Learning occurs in different settings such as at home, during play, at work or more commonly, at school. In formal settings, learning takes place in a classroom, library or laboratory. Teachers facilitate learning on different levels. On the other hand, apprenticeship is a combination of training on the job and related classroom instruction through the supervision of a trade professional or journey-level craft person. Workers learn the practical and theoretical aspects of an occupation that requires advanced skills. This essay compares education and apprenticeship by examining the various stages and processes involved in both.
In the United States, the process of learning begins at Pre-school. Preschool is the period just before kindergarten or primary school. Johann Friedrich Oberlin, together with Loiuse Scheppler were the founders of pre-primary school, kindergarten and nursery school. Children could only enroll in primary school if they could read and write at home. The idea of preschool was that it afforded education to children whose parents were factory workers, disadvantaged or orphaned. This has since developed to be a major component of the American education system.
The next stage of education is known as elementary or primary school. This is the school that normally includes the very first three elementary school grade. The concept of primary school was conceived in 1802. The purpose of elementary education was to provide basic education to children between the ages of five and seven. The focus of primary education was to provide fundamental academic learning as well as socialization skills which exposed students to a wide range of knowledge, skills and behavioral adjustments which are necessary for survival in life. Basic subjects such as mathematics and Basic English grammar and spelling were also taught. Middle school, also known as junior high is a stage of school which comprises of children between the level of elementary school and high school. This stage encompasses grades 5 or 6 through 8. The ages of children at this stage of learning are of the ages of 8 through 12 or 9 through 13. The purpose of middle school is to bridge the gap between elementary school and high school. The idea of junior high school was conceived by Charles W. Elliott.
The high school stage comprises grades 9 through 12 in the United States. The name “high school” came originally from Scotland, which had the oldest high school. This high school was used to model the first high schools in the United States. The knowledge acquired in high school is a bit complex as compared that obtained in middle school. High school education is important because it prepares individuals for college or university.
Colleges are avenues for more extensive education as compared to apprenticeships. Once they successfully graduate from high school; students enroll for courses at the University. The education imparted to these students is more advanced than that provided in high school. Colleges were the first institutions of higher learning in the United States. The first college was founded in 1622.
The average American citizen now spends between 12 to 22 years in public or private school system. Different regimes have come up with programs such as the “Head Start,” “race to the top,” and “No Child Left Behind.” These plans have been developed for the purposes of improving the American educational system and to narrow the achievement gap between disadvantaged students and those who have access to education. The educational system now employs a more intense curriculum that enables students to obtain a wide variety of information. Many people do like learning without a clear-cut goal in mind. Many people oppose the idea of learning, where the individual is expected to sit down and listen to the teacher teach. More importantly, these people oppose to the amount of time spent in formal education. These people contend that it does not take 16 years to acquire the skills involved in occupations such as teacher, sales associates, or plumber. Many students fail to graduate from high school as a result of this conflicted view of education delivered through a sit-down approach.
Apprenticeship is a term which comes from the word “apprentice.” An apprentice is a person who works for another person with the intention of hoping to learn a particular trade from them. The practice of apprenticeship began a long time ago. However, it was not until 1937 that trade schools were first started. Early apprenticeship involved carpentry, where skills were passed down generation after generation. Other skills such as iron-working and weaving were also passed through to other generations. An example of a successful apprenticeship is that of Henry Heinz, the maker of different sauces. His recipe fo9r Heinz products was provided to him by this lack of carefulness.
There are various teaching methods applied in college. College lecturers and teachers realize that teaching is an art as well as a science. There are different approaches to teaching. These approaches depend on different factors such as the nature of the subject and topics being taught. The most common teaching method is lectures. Lectures are effective in presenting new information orally to fit different learning styles. However, research indicates that after only 10 to 20 minutes (UNC Charlotte 2).
Study groups involve collaboration in teams towards achieving a common goal. The teacher may help set up study groups. Groups have been lauded as effective ways of teaching. This is because members of the group are able to collaborate and work on the weaknesses of individual members (UNC Charlotte 2). Assessment and testing are also best performed through groups. Members can collaborate effectively in coming up with a solution.
Essays are another effective method of teaching and assessment. By writing down certain concepts and ideas, the student is not likely to forget them. Essays test various things in a student. First, they determine whether the student can express their ideas in the form of writing. Secondly, they test the extent to which the student grasped the concepts taught by the teacher.
Online assignments are an efficient method of teaching. This is because they are easy to access from any location. In addition, they afford the student the power to research from online sources. Generally, tests and examinations are the evaluation and assessment methods used in college. Students are assessed on their retention of particular topics and concepts as well as their ability to interpret information and perform critical thinking. Tests may be administered either in written or oral format depending on the subject being tested.
The cost of college education is relatively high and depends on the college and course enrolled in. The cost of college education is driven up by the high cost of paying lecturers, the cost of consumable teaching materials, maintenance costs such as electricity and water bills and the cost of keeping amenities open to the public.
Features of apprenticeship
Just like college education, apprenticeship has various components that may be broken down to explain how it works. For example, family bonding is experienced when the teacher and the apprentice are related. This is because the experiential transfer of skills and knowledge facilitates, communication, which in turn enables people to bond. For example, a son who learns how to assemble and disassemble a vehicle from his father is likely to bond with him.
On the job training is the scenario where one acquires a particular skill on the job. This process of acquiring the skill is made possible through observation, doing, asking questions, making mistakes and rectifying them. The best way to learn is by doing. The practicality involved enables a skill to be retained. An example of this may be learning how to crimp an optic fiber cable.
Costs for this form of learning are relatively low. This is because the costs charged to the apprentice are minimal because the price of the work they do pays for the apprenticeship. Secondly, there is the minimization of waste because the consumables are utilized appropriately.
In terms of experience, this form of teaching is better because it offers practicality to the apprentice. The apprentice is involved in performing specific tasks which would be performed in a real work situation. The apprentice, therefore, gains on-the-job experience, as opposed to a learner of theory in a college class.
Research & Statistics on apprenticeship and college learning
There is extensive research on learning and memory. For example, Wesson (3), states that memories are internal mental records maintained by the individual. These internal records provide instant access to an individual’s personal past, coupled with all the skills and facts learned and cultivated. The three processes of human memory are encoding storage and retrieval. Learning is the ability or capacity to modify the information that exists in memory based on new experiences or new input. Memory, however, is contingent on prior learning.
According to Tabarrok (1), a considerable 25% of Americans fail to graduate from high school. The problem is usually that the United States favors only one path to obtaining knowledge. This is the path through the classroom. In Germany, the story is different, 97% of students become high school graduates but only one-third of these attends college. The two-thirds enter apprenticeship programs which provide them with practical knowledge they would never have obtained is they had gone to college.
Apprenticeships combine theory and practice, while the students still get paid. On the other hand, college learning provides students with the tools to advance their theoretical knowledge to solve existing problems and innovate. There are different pros and cons involved in apprentice and college learning. College learning favors the capacity to use theoretical know-how to solve existing problems through application of principles. Apprenticeship may not always explain the principles, concepts and theory behind a particular mechanical, chemical or biological process. On the other hand, apprenticeship develops experience, while the apprentice is being taught. The college learner only gains experience after they visit a real work situation requiring application of principles. Apprentices are likely to be absorbed into a job position requiring technical experience faster than college graduates. Apprentices are also likely to be more precautious as compared to college learners who may not have been in a real-world task environment. College learning is favorable because it enables wide coverage of subject matter, while apprenticeship is specialized.
Apprenticeship and college learning are both approaches which have benefits as well as shortcomings. Burns (99) describes learning as a comparatively permanent change in behavior, whereby behavior is the observable activity, as well as internal processes such as attitudes, thinking and emotions. In the United States, the path of obtaining knowledge, where the student sits through a classroom is favored. This comprises of the preschool, elementary, junior high school, high school and college format of education. Other countries, particularly those in Europe, favor apprenticeship because it is more practical. The college learner only gains experience after they visit a real work situation requiring application of principles. One advantage of college training is that it equips the student with the requisite tools to innovate and pursue improvements based on the principles they have learned in class. Overall, both teaching methods should be considered.
Burns, Robert B. The adult learner at work: the challenges of lifelong education in the new millennium. 2nd ed. Crows Nest, N.S.W.: Allen & Unwin, 2002. Print.
Tabarrok , Alex . "Apprenticeships v. College." Marginal Revolution RSS. Version 1. marginalrevolution.com, 6 Mar. 2012. Web. 9 Apr. 2014. <http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2012/03/apprenticeships-v-college.html>.
UNC Charlotte. "A Brief Summary of the Best Practices in College Teaching." News. Version 1. UNC Charlotte, 3 Feb. 2012. Web. 9 Apr. 2014. <https://teaching.uncc.edu/learning-resources/articles-books/best-practice/instructional-methods/best-practices-summary>.
Wesson, Kenneth . "Learning & Memory: How Do We Remember and Why Do We Often Forget?." Brain World. Version 1. brainworldmagazine.com, 1 Mar. 2012. Web. 9 Apr. 2014. <http://brainworldmagazine.com/learning-memory-how-do-we-remember-and-why-do-we-often-forget/>.