Issue 10 T.O.C. – Will Wheeler – “An Unexpected Gift”


This post is part of a blog series revealing the table of contents of upcoming Issue Ten. As is our custom, we’ll be discussing one article per weekday in order to give you a taste of what is come. 

Please note that the subscription window which includes Issue Ten is open now through February 28th.

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Will Wheeler – “An Unexpected Gift: Discovering Calm in a Modern Apprenticeship” 

What does a modern apprenticeship look like? How has that ancient model of immersive learning changed as our society pushes forward into the 21st century? And what are the lessons that a master can teach in today’s specialized world?

Author and spoon carver Will Wheeler explores these questions through his own experience in the Maine Craft Apprentice Program, in which he gained experience in a period of seven months under the watchful tutelage of Kenneth Kortemeier of the Maine Coast Craft School. Together, they worked through the process of creating a pair of ladderback chairs, starting from green logs.

Wheeler observes that his enthusiasm for learning was tempered somewhat by his cautious inexperience with the chairmaking process. But Kortemeier’s calm composure and surety, built on years of practical knowledge, brought assurance to each step of the project. 

Juggling work and a growing family make it difficult today to imagine committing to the rigid apprenticeship method of learning, so prevalent in past centuries. But Wheeler shows that adapting this method is possible for a motivated student, and that master artisans remain the most impactful source of knowledge available for someone seeking a deeper understanding of their craft.

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