Apprentice’ship’ – A Smooth Sea Does Not Make A Good Sailor – az

It is generally known that learning your ropes is a key factor in developing your personal, academic and professional life. It is true that one always encounters a very competitive world, yet it is also true that facing this world with solid training is a way to allay their fears.

According to FDR, ‘A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor’ – this saying is absolutely applicable to an educator’s career on the grounds that having the reading literature itself will not provide the real electro-cardiogram of teaching, in other words, the ups and downs in the classroom environment. That is the part where apprenticeship proves to be an essential step to bridge the gap between theory and practice.

I have recently got involved with the PIBID (Programa Institucional de Bolsas de Iniciação à Docencia) at UFSJ in which 10 students of Letras are observing and actively taking part in the lessons I teach at E.E. Garcia de Lima, a state school in São João Del Rei. It is worth pointing out that such a programme is now being developed at an early stage (not at the end of the course any longer) of these students academic life so that they can have a better perception and perspective of what teaching entails.

From my point of view, There is a full range of benefits to be gained from apprenticeship and further down is a short list of what I have observed in my short, yet eventful career.

  1. Self-confidence building: facing the classroom stage may be a daunting experience for many, especially when you are in the spotlight. However, it is by observing and experimenting with the trial-and-error process that will thicken one’s skin and allow them to develop self-confidence. The skills of selecting, adapting and rejecting are instrumental in meeting one’s beliefs and, obviously, extremely important when having to change paradigms. Such confidence does not stem from theory, much to the contrary, it comes from the hands-on process in which novice teachers will learn to make choices, eliminate options and, eventually, enjoy great success of their own practice.
  2. Discipline building: this a key factor to be developed in the apprenticeship stage. Not only will it raise awareness of what is going on in the learning environment but it will also provide paths, say, ‘hows’ and, more importantly, the ‘whens’ tasks must be carried out. Deadlines may be considered to be a sort of good stress in the sense that once you are done with them, you are free. Either fortunately or unfortunately, we are moved by deadlines, so being able to meet such deadlines with a low level of stress is something related to discipline. Addressing to the tasks required and demand with good timing may actually avoid procrastination and the kind.
  3. Spotting Weaknesses and Strengths: we are all brought in this world as a winner, yet it is inevitable that at some point in our life we will encounter slippery roads. The apprenticeship stage is more like working on a rough diamond in the sense that one will always need to sharpen it without losing its essence. It is at this stage that an apprentice may learn about themselves, spot their own weaknesses and from map out changes that will lead to strengths. Self-criticism may actually provide you with a perceived knowledge of what your capacity needs and requires and, consequently, enable you to run your errands the best way possible.
  4. Responsibility building: Little does an apprentice know how much is at stake in the teaching career. In fact, they can hardly fathom out the sheer variety of responsibilities existing within the teaching/learning realm. However, it is the apprenticeship process that will expose potential teachers to such daily responsibilities and lend itself to the development of skills and experience required to deal with them. Amongst various qualities, responsibility is one factor that can easily elevate one’s status to a professional educator.

I reckon that apprenticeship seems to be a window to a successful career of a student bearing in mind the opportunity they have to test both theory and practice with the spinoffs of deciding what they judge to be the best way to match their needs, wants and interests. As it stands, apprenticeship is definitely an important way to learn the ropes and the rougher the sea is, the better sailors we will become.

Adriano Zanetti

Adriano Zanetti – BA in Letras, Post-graduate in Language Teaching Methodologies, RSA Dip. DELTA. An educator for 30 years, an ELT consultant/teacher trainer at A2Z English Consultancy, a teacher/trainer/coordinator at FISK São João del Rei and Cambridge Assessment English Speaking Examiner. A Pronunciation SIG member responsible for Pronunciation courses for teachers/students. Presented several times in LABCI/ABCI conferences, Braz-Tesol Regional/National Chapters and different institutions in MG. /

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