Is a return to antiquity a truly backward way of thinking? Since the time of Socrates and Plato in ancient Greece, the concept of apprenticeships has existed. Apprenticeships were vital to the success of the individual and promoted their own education and growth. However, the apprenticeship waned out of existence and was only present in very select fields.
The fundamental problem with how learning has progressed has been its aggressively streamlined approach. Education moved from practicality and functionality to what was measurable through standardized exams. The workshop turned into the school house– and the school house evolved into what can only be considered some kind of Orwellian dystopian conformity.
As the world becomes more adaptable and the work place is demanding more creative and flexible employees, the world of education is stuck in its Cold War-era methodology. I spent four months of the last fall in Copenhagen, Denmark, a place where innumerous fields are being innovated quicker than most places on the planet.
The most striking concept to me was the folkeskole—which was a conscious movement made by the Danish government to revamp their educational system. Written into legislation in 1994, the Folkeskole Act made it clear that the education of newer generations would focus on fostering technical skills, languages, creativity and independent learning. Other Scandinavian countries have followed suit like Norway and Finland and Scandinavia has become the forefront of the modern educational movement.
Ironically, this region holds many of the top scoring countries on standards that were set by the educational leaders of yesteryear, the United States and the United Kingdom.
But where does the folkeskole and the apprenticeship overlap? These principles embody a similar ideology to the not-so-ancient approach of apprenticeships. Apprenticeships enable the pupils to grow in an active workplace environment and learn “on the fly.” This independent learning and practical education is at the core of this folkeskole idea.
There comes a point where a textbook, a basic online programming class or a limited internship simply is not enough. The reality is this: in order for individuals to guide their own learning and truly regiment their own growth, a return to a time when students are thrust into learning experiences is needed. Breaking down the barriers of the current educational infrastructure has to happen and it may be apprenticeships that do just that.
Everything that’s old could really be what’s new again.