Apprenticeship Method, a Second View



The literature associated with Iran’s art and architecture in the past four decades has witnessed a handful number of works that have dealt with the re-interpretation of the old tradition of apprenticeship and its connection with the Fotovvat movement of the time. In those valuable works, what has duly been decoded most, is the spiritual and mystical aspect of apprenticeship, as a full-scale social, cultural and educational institution, which has successfully been holding the responsibility of the face to face conveyance of cultural-religious values, as well as techniques and skills of art, through generations. The unparalleled works of Persian art and architecture, and most of all, the continuance of its unique identity throughout history, is a testimony of the success of the above institution. It is worth mentioning that such an institution, and the religious culture governing it, is not exclusive to the Iranian society, but an outcome of the distinct spiritual attitude towards the universe, prevalent in all traditional societies. What the present paper is to put forward, is a different view to the apprenticeship method. From this viewpoint, apprenticeship is not seen only as a cultural spiritual institution of the old times, but more as an effective and efficient method of instruction in today’s professional education. Educational Psychology of the recent decades has taken steps towards re-discovering the properties and dimensions of apprenticeship as a method of instruction. To elucidate the author’s educational viewpoint, evidence will be given first, of the ever-increasing attention to the apprenticeship, referring to new theories of educational psychology, as well as practical endeavors made to adapt the method to today’s educational needs. Subsequently, a brief explanation of the re-interpretation of the method in Cognitive Psychology will follow. Branded as “cognitive apprenticeship”, the re-interpretation suggests six components or properties for the apprenticeship method; modeling, coaching, scaffolding, articulation, reflection, and exploration. Furthermore, in order to better substantiate the significance of apprenticeship, three important learning theories, whose findings would highlight the superior properties of apprenticeship will also be explained in brief. Those theories are; social learning, situated learning, and social constructivism. Scrutinizing the six-fold properties of cognitive apprenticeship reveals a rather overlooked component, which has to do with the human affective attributes, namely; opinions, attitudes, values and personality traits. Attitudes form a deeper layer of human’s affective domain, which is unveiled in human’s opinions- the prerequisite of behaviors, while having its roots in the still deeper layers of values and personality traits. Drawing on the more recent theorizing on transfer of learning, the paper highlights the decisive role of human affective attributes in the enhancement of learning transfer, as the core of an effective and efficient mode of professional education. In the end, taking the human affective attributes into account, the paper will conclude with presenting a modified model of apprenticeship, where the six cognitive components function as methods of master/apprentice interaction, while the human affective attributes, deeply rooted in personality traits, provide the motivational ground for the novice apprentice to transcend towards the master status.