Master* Teachers: Community and Expertise

Trivium 21c


“Obsessing about quality is a way of subjecting the work itself to relentless generic pressure; workers given over to this passion can dominate or detach themselves from others less driven. Both are dangers…” Richard Sennett: The Craftsman

Whilst writing Trivium 21c I came across the work of Richard Sennett, I would recommend his writing to anyone interested in arts, crafts, community, organisations and creativity. In The Craftsman he has some interesting things to say re: mastery, expertise, guilds and professional organisations. I try and get the gist of some of his ideas here and look at what implications they may have for our current debates in teaching.

Sennet talks about there being two sorts of expert, the sociable and the anti-sociable. One can quibble about silly dichotomies but this interested me. He posits the idea of the sociable expert as the master craftsman who was, from the middle ages onwards, central to the medieval guilds…

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