Perhaps, folks, part of the reason that more young people are not
going into smithing is that they are not receiving encouragement to
Perhaps that is part of the reason, but this subject has come up on
this forum in the past. I can’t remember the thread, nor could I
quickly find it in the archives, but a few years ago, somebody was
wondering why there were so few young people interested in making
jewelry, goldsmithing, lapidary, etc. A few teachers (high school)
who were contributing to Orchid at the time asked their students
whether they’d be interested in learning some aspects of the trade.
The reported response was overwhelming, and I use quotation marks
because I’ll never forget it: “I don’t think I should have to work
that hard to make a living.”
I experienced a fair amount of this same attitude as an instructor
in the Air Force back in the mid-1980s. Trying to teach many of those
kids about electronic radar theory of operation was harder than mohs
10. They knew that the Air Force’s policy was not to far off from the
"no child left behind" program, and were far more interested in
partying than studying. Not that partying is a bad thing, but
obligations should be met somewhere along the line.
A case in point is the young woman who works in the same store I do.
She’s 23 years of age, and has been working there for around 5 years.
The owner paid for her GIA Diamonds & Diamond Grading Distance
Education course just after she began working there because she
wanted to become a gemologist. When I went to work there about 16
months ago, she had finished about 2/3 of the lessons and hadn’t
touched them in years. The store owner decided to sign her up (and
pay!!!) for her to attend the classroom part of the course while the
instructors were in town. She railed against it but went anyway, last
year. That did prompt her to finish the Distance Education lessons,
but she still hasn’t scheduled a proctor for the final exam to get
her Diamonds Certificate.
When I ask her why she refuses to finish what she started, she
exclaims “It’s hard!! There’s math, and stuff!!” Then, there are the
discussions she starts about how she isn’t getting paid a “living
wage” for South Florida. I try to explain to her that most high
school dropouts like her are lucky to make anything above minimum
wage (she does far better than minimum wage), and the idea that
somebody who refuses to improve themselves and the knowledge of their
chosen field of employment doesn’t automatically deserve riches
simply for drawing breath on this planet. Her ears are deaf to this
rationale, as she plans to marry a rich guy.
I hope she doesn’t apply the same work ethic to her marriage (if
that ever happens).
James S. Duncan, G.G.
James in SoFL