Apprenticeship – A Method of Learning in the Matrix of Life


Who is an apprentice? A person who is learning a trade from a skilled professional in the same trade. If we take a moment to think about it, are we all not apprentices to someone or something? Let me explain this concept in more detail so that my idea on the matter is conveyed more easily. For starters, I can think of classifying apprenticeship into two major categories. They are:

Apprentice to someone or Physical Apprenticeship:

It is safe to assume that we are all able to easily understand the idea of being an apprentice to someone. For instance, I am an employed professional and my firm is one that operates based on a leverage model. This directly means that I have a senior who leverages work from me, or in terms of this context, I have a senior who teaches me the nuances of the trade on a daily basis. Quite simple. Whether we may have already acknowledged it or not, we all belong to some social construct that allows us to actively or passively experience the idea of apprenticeship. This may require some further digging to clearly understand, so let’s do that.

The average person is someone with a family and a few friends (Yes, this is an assumption. If you don’t have them, then wait till you read my next section on abstract apprenticeship. That is applicable to everyone). Once again, I will take the liberty of giving examples from my life itself as that is easier. Like most millennials, I too honestly believe that I am significantly smarter than my parents. But while we can hold on to that belief, it is also true that they have their “I told you so!” moments. These are precisely the moments when I realise that I am their apprentice. Does it work the other way around? Yes. There definitely have been more than one moment where I taught my parents about things (classic examples would be instances where I am better at them when it comes to technology). These moments are where I am the skilled professional, and they the apprentice. But that is with respect to family, again easily perceived. How are we an apprentice to our friends? This too works both ways. I have a friend with a passion for reading that I doubt I will ever be able to match my own with in this lifetime. But then do I stop? No. I actively try to see what the differences are in our thought processes so that I will be able to visualise and adopt her love for reading, for my personal betterment. I would like to term this as active apprenticeship, where the individual actively makes an effort to learn. The opposite is clearly passive apprenticeship, where the individual is taught without actively seeking for the lesson, like the way it happens with at my workplace (just kidding :P) and with my parents, predominantly. But terms aside, I think it might be safe to assume that the vice-versa of the friend being the apprentice must be quite easy to derive from the nature of how this works. Let’s move on the next section then.

Apprentice to something or Abstract Apprenticeship:

The first thing that comes off the top of my mind when I think about abstract concepts is Time. Ever heard of the famous quote “Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils“? It is by the French composer, Hector Berlioz, not that it is relevant. What is of relevance of-course is your first interpretation of this saying. Mine would be to think that we learn lessons in life over time but by the time we learn all that is relevant to us, we end up in the grave. Is it not true then that we are an apprentice of time who teaches us about life? Now you could argue that “Life” is not a trade per se and you would be right, but only from whatever perspective that caused you to put that argument forward. Philosophically, I would be bound to counter-argue that life is in fact the most evident trade that all of us are a part of without any choice. Whether you experience physical apprenticeship or not, there is no way you will be able to escape the presence of abstract apprenticeship. Abstract concepts are ubiquitous, examples being time, experience, etc… How can these concepts be viewed as skilled professionals of a trade so that they are relevant currently? Like I mentioned earlier, Time is the skilled professional when it comes to teaching us about life, as is Experience. You could ask how “Time” or “Experience” as individual entities are qualified for this position? The answer lies in the empirical evidences from one’s own life. Time helped me to forget sorrow, but that is an instance from my life. Similarly, there might be something from yours. Unanimously of-course, time and experience helps in our maturity, both physical and mental. It is true that time is just an entity that passes along while experience is the true teacher in life. This is again dependant on the instance. An example would be the healing ability of time and the teaching ability of experience. But in both examples, we learn to become better at life as a trade, which is the original idea of apprenticeship.

In conclusion, the idea that I wished to convey was that we are all part of this omnipresent matrix called Life with the aim of learning, and apprenticeship is the methodology that is employed to achieve that aim. Hopefully, you as a reader are able to visualise my point-of-view on this matter with the way I have conveyed my idea.