Thursday, October 31, 2013

Educator: Craftsperson

As an educator, I like to think of myself as a craftsperson, one who is continually honing her craft to teach children well. 

I looked up the definition of craftsperson on wikipedia and found this:

Historically, craftsmen tended to concentrate in urban centers and formed guilds. The skill required by their professions and the need to be permanently involved in the exchange of goods also demanded a generally higher level of education. . . .Once an apprentice of a craft had finished his apprenticeship, he would become a journeyman searching for a place to set up his own shop and make a living. After he set up his own shop, he could then call himself a master of his craft.

I searched a bit more, and found this creed by Josh Kaufman. Although Josh was talking about MBA's, I found that I could apply his creed to education. Below I copied each line of his creed, then placed a question or comment in italics to lead my craft. 
"I am a craftsman. I am dedicated to perfecting the art and science of my craft, which I have chosen freely."
I will commit to regular reading, research, reflection, and collaboration to hone my craft. 
"I am constantly, relentlessly searching for ways to improve my craft. I am dedicated to learning from the masters who have preceded me in every way I am able."
As Chris Lehmann @chrislehmann recently suggested, I will look back and forward to masters of the past like Dewey as well as today's masters to learn.
"I create valuable things that other people want or need. I generously offer my work as a gift when it is wise, but my purpose is to help those who value my work enough to pay for what I have to offer. No one has an unlimited claim on my craft, knowledge, or the fruits of my effort. I work for people who value and support me."
Teaching is much like a gift to the children we serve, yet it is important for educators to expect adequate compensation and support for the work they do as that provides the lifestyle and necessities that allow us to commit to our craft. 
"I honestly promote what I have to offer, consistently and to the limit of my capabilities. I make no apologies for promoting my craft. I am proud of my work, and it is my duty and responsibility to reach people who may benefit from my craft. I can help them no other way."
I share the work I do in multiple ways to benefit others. 
"I do my best to ensure that every single person who trusts me with their time, attention, or money is happy with their investment. If they are not, I will do whatever is in my power to do right by them without delay."
I am committed to those I serve, particularly children, with the best of my work.
"Skills are a craftsman’s credentials. I care more about a person’s character, what they know, and what they can do than where they grew up, where they went to school, or how many letters they have after their name. I choose to work with other craftsmen: people who are skilled, not simply schooled."
I look forward to working with other skilled educators as we collectively develop our craft. 
"I respect other craftsmen, and I generously assist them however I’m able. I have no respect for the fool who searches for a way to enjoy the fruits of labor without effort, or the scoundrel who seeks to enrich himself by deluding others. Value, not wealth or fame, is the true measure of every craftsman."
I am a collaborative member of the educational team near and far.  
"I take good care of myself. My mind and body are the tools I use to advance my craft, so I take care of them. Rest and recovery are essential to my life: a worn-down tool is of no use at all."
I seek, advocate, and employ the time, environment, and activities that help me to care for myself. 
"I never stop pushing my limits. I am constantly testing and experimenting with new ways to expand my capabilities. It is my way of life."
I am committed to life-long learning, new ideas, and new learning.  In that regard, I expect that I will make mistakes, mistakes that I will learn from. 
"I refuse to waste precious time and energy on trivial matters, trivial problems, and trivial people. I choose to focus only on the most important of demands: those that help me advance my craft or take care of the people who depend on me."
I will stay away from trivial matters that impede the essential efforts, attitude, and work that teach children well. 
"The world is an uncertain place, which I can not fully predict or control. Regardless, I will do everything in my power to prepare for every challenge and weather every storm. Nothing in this world is powerful enough to stop me from continuing to practice my craft."
I won't let sudden change or unexpected events get in the way of doing my best job.  I will meet the expectations of my craft with flexibility, creativity, and adaptation. 
"Anything that I can do to improve my craft, I will do. This will keep me busy until the end of my days: a challenge I gladly accept. I am a craftsman, and always shall be."
I will live a lifestyle that contributes to my craft, educating children well. 

As an educator, do you consider yourself a craftsperson?  If so, why?  If not, why not?  As an educator-craftsperson, what does this connection say about your craft and focus, and how does it make you similar or dissimilar to others in your profession?  What changes in your outlook, schedule, and long-term focus does this craftsperson/educator connection make for you?

In so many ways, as an educator, I am a craftsperson, one who will look to Kaufman's creed as a source of inspiration and direction.