Muscles, Morals and Mind: Craft Apprenticeship and the Formation of Person

British Journal of Educational Studies 56 (3):245 - 271 (2008)
The paper considers apprenticeship as a model of education that both teaches technical skills and provides the grounding for personal formation. The research presented is based on long-term anthropological fieldwork with minaret builders in Yemen, mud masons in Mali and fine-woodwork trainees in London. These case studies of on-site learning and practice support an expanded notion of knowledge that exceeds propositional thinking and language and centrally includes the body and skilled performance. Crafts -- like sport, dance and other skilled physical activities -- are largely communicated, understood and negotiated between practitioners without words, and learning is achieved through observation, mimesis and repeated exercise. The need for an interdisciplinary study of communication and understanding from the body is therefore underlined, and the paper suggests a way forward drawing on linguistic theory and recent neurological findings. It is argued that the validation and promotion of skilled practice as 'intelligent' is necessary for raising the status and credibility of apprenticestyle learning within our Western systems of education.
Keywords embodied learning  craft knowledge  apprenticeship  linguistic theory  ethnographic method  modern apprenticeships  embodied communication  situated learning
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DOI 10.1111/j.1467-8527.2008.00407.x
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