Life of a Journeyman

August 10th, 2012, 9:09 am PST by Greg

We were watching some No Reservations the other night, and Tony referred to himself as “essentially a journeyman chef”.

For some reason, the word “journeyman” stuck in my brain as one of those words that I don’t really know what it means but probably should. As usual, Wikipedia has an excellent description:

someone who has completed an apprenticeship and is fully educated in a trade or craft, but not yet a master. To become a master, a journeyman has to submit a master work….

And from Merriam-Webster:

an experienced reliable worker, athlete, or performer especially as distinguished from one who is brilliant or colorful

Now the idea was really stuck in my head, because it so perfectly fits a problem I have been having. Occasionally a student says something like “thanks, that course was great”. I have an uneasiness about the word “great” for a reason I can now articulate.

I see myself as a journeyman lecturer.

My courses are those of someone who is fully educated in his craft: they are fairly well designed and executed. But, they fundamentally present the obvious material in the obvious way and aren’t exactly mind altering. Basically, experienced and reliable, not “brilliant or colourful”. None of them are anything I would consider calling a “master work”.

This is exciting, because it means there may be a master work out there somewhere in my future, and I don’t know what it is yet. Note to self: find master work.

So I continued to read the Wikipedia article:

spending time as a wandering journeyman (Wandergeselle), moving from one town to another to gain experience of different workshops, was an important part of the training of an aspirant master

Traditionally, a journeyman well… journeys. A journeyman tradesman would put on the traditional costume and go out, hoping to make enough money working for a master to make his way to the next town. [Important point: the guys in that picture are not historical reenactors. There are still tradesmen in Germany who do this.]

Perhaps there is some professional journey I could take. Let’s come back to that.

[Forgive the gender-loaded vocabulary, but “journeyperson” just isn’t a word and wouldn’t have the same ring to it if it was.]

3 Responses to “Life of a Journeyman”

  1. Kat Says:

    I have SO many questions about the traditional costumes! They are not limited to:

    1a. Is the twirly-wood stick decorative or functional?

    1b. If functional, what is its function?

    2. Is 70’s fashion based on the traditional journeyman costume?

    3. Must the journeyman with the floppy hat wear the floppy hat while performing his/her trade, or is he/she allowed to take it off?

    4. Is the bundle that the floppy hat journeyman is carrying the journeyman equivalent to a hobo bindle?

    5. Were there con men who took advantage of the standardized costume to get free transportation/lodging/food without finishing a trade/craft apprenticeship?

  2. Greg Says:

    Best I’ve got on the subject: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Journeyman_years#Journeyman_costume_in_Germany

  3. Nico Says:

    In view of this, and your other post, where you mention that your life may be getting more interesting, I’m wondering if this could be related to a new professional “journey”.

    I’ll be checking in to learn all about the sequel.