Last year, johnswentworth posted The Apprentice Experiment. I tried it out. It was a disaster for me and most of my "apprentices". Since then I have been figuring out how to make apprenticeship work. I currently have two minions. Thanks to them, I finally feel like a proper supervillain.

"How can I live without a human being to pour me drinks and fetch my dirty sandals?" I said.

"You got used to having a servant scarily fast," [Redacted] said.

April was weird

For starters, I don't use the word "apprentice". The word "apprentice" is pretentious and inaccurate. A teenager's parents pay the master to accept their son[1] as an apprentice. Apprenticeship is like sending a kid to a vocational school. Would I accept apprentices? Possibly. But if you (or your parents) are not paying me for the privilege of my tutelage then you are not an apprentice.

Squires are different. Squires are not students. I don't try to teach my squires anything at all. I just give them the boring tedious work I don't want to do. Surprisingly (to me) they love it.

Teenagers want to be useful. But teenagers have limited skills. I put my squires to work doing the most complicated tasks they are capable of. Today, that meant sweeping the floor. Why is sweeping the floor fun? Because doing the most complicated work you are capable of is fun. Less complicated work is boring. More complicated work is frustrating.

"Fun" is evolution rewarding you for learning optimally.

My squires learn quickly. Last month a squire offered to spellcheck my blog posts. This month, his assignment is to negotiate a business deal with <wearables company> instead. Will he succeed? I don't know. I have better things to do than micromanage my minions. This brings me to the most important trait a squire can have.

Good squires invent work for themselves to do. If the work is valuable (like spellchecking my posts) then I tell the squire to continue doing it. If the work is worthless then I give the squire a useful assignment to do instead. "I want to be your squire. What should I do?" is a bad way to introduce yourself. "I want to be your squire. I can do " for you is a good way to introduce yourself even if  turns out to be worthless.

The most important trait a squire can have is "eager to work". A squire who is eager to work can usually made useful.

Squiring is for energetic young people who have few skills and no money. If you have money then just hire me as a personal coach instead.

  1. ^

    Middle Ages Europe was a sexist place.

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6 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 2:29 AM

This sounds awful.

I'm not really willing to invest the effort to argue against this concept, but I also feel weird that no one has said "this sounds bad and makes me feel weird", so I'll take the hit and be the schmuck to say it.

I thought so too, at first, but experience trumps intuition.

Is this concept the same thing as an intern?

If you are currently a squire who would like to become a better squire, do you have any advice?

Ask the person you're working for.