Okay, so this is the real story. I have been planning an arborist resource website for a really long time. It was a combination of busyness, babies, and bullshit that delayed it, what Steven Pressfield labels “The Resistance”. But this summer, I finally did get around to designing the shell of this site. Part of me worried that the name of the site might sound pretentious. I certainly hope that people don’t think this is me saying that I know more than anyone else out there. I am a college dropout, my only education is in the school of hard knocks. The site is geared towards the education of a climber, and so I named it EducatedClimber.
The problem was, I didn’t really have an angle, an overarching plan of what I was trying to achieve, other than cataloguing the fundamental skills of our trade. Later in the season however, I was approached by a young guy named James. He is 22 years old and an outright greenhorn, a total noob. He was quiet and watchful on the job, and he asked good questions. He was interested in learning, and wanted to do an apprenticeship. Now I had never signed an apprentice before, but I had known for a long time that I would, and I had been looking forward to the opportunity.
We did the apprenticeship paperwork and put him on the list to go to school (schooling is 2 terms of 12 weeks). The schooling, from my perspective, was free training in the basics during our off-season, including a bunch of climbing experience. I had figured that I could pick up where they left off and then show him my way of doing things. He was promptly told that he wouldn’t be getting into school any time soon, there was already a waiting list. He was disappointed, to say the least.
So I said screw it, I can teach you twice as much in half the time. And in that moment, I realized the real purpose of this website.
When you work with experienced people for long enough, it is very easy to get out of touch with your former self. You start to take for granted so much of the skills and knowledge that you use on a daily basis. This is why most seasoned veterans prefer working with experienced people – everyone knows their role and what is expected of them. It takes a greenhorn on the jobsite to help you appreciate just how much knowledge you really have. This is why teaching someone from scratch is so expensive and time consuming. Most people have trouble teaching complex concepts, mostly because they have never taken the time to really think and dwell on the topic long enough. They usually figure out what works and what doesn’t, and then when they try to teach this knowledge to someone else, they end up showing the how, but not always the why.
And this is what draws me towards teaching. Good teaching forces me to fully wrap my head around something, to explore the logic of it, the why and not just the how. I am forced to identify inconsistencies and question everything. I try to teach to other people the way I would like to be shown. As a lifelong student myself, I am the guy who is never satisfied with just knowing how to do something, I always want to know why. Why do we do this at all? Why do we do it this way when there are all kinds of other possibilities? Is this really the best way to do this?
So EducatedClimber fulfills a dual role for me. This is the best way for me to record and catalogue the basic skills and knowledge that my apprentice James needs to know, starting from the very beginning. This is especially convenient for us in the winter when we are not working very much – James can study and learn this stuff at home, on his own time, and it is exactly how I would teach it in person. At the same time, anybody else in the trade can go to the site and benefit from the knowledge there. It truly is a win-win situation.
So there you have it. This is the mission statement. I am committed to showing my apprentice, James, everything that he needs to know to learn the basics in the trade. This site is the vehicle for that training. And if anyone else can benefit from this knowledge then I am even happier. I hope to be a positive influence on the younger generation and if my materials can help even one aspiring tree surgeon then I will consider this experiment a success. So James, this one’s for you.
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