My hat's off to teachers.

In reality, the teaching label applies to just about everyone. Parents and relatives teach their children, older siblings teach the younger ones, religions teach their following, educators teach their students, and master craftsmen teach their apprentices.

This “teaching” is all accomplished by words and actions, good or bad. As a trade, it is vitally important to train apprentices so we can preserve our craft and legacy.

In the middle ages, a master mason was a revered scholar. He walked, talked, and rubbed elbows with kings and bishops, who were the richest and most powerful men of the world. He was a free man who could go to any country and work, while serfs and slaves were bound by the land and their owners.

This mason was among the very few outside of the monasteries that could read, write, calculate geometric equations, and draw architectural plans. He was a visionary. He could see a castle, cathedral, or temple where one was non-existent. He was able to direct others how to cut each stone in the quarries so that, when transported and placed so precisely at the jobsite, a piece of paper couldn't be slid between them.

He was truly a remarkable man then, and he still is today.

A modern mason may use many man-made products along with natural stone, but he still is no less creative that his predecessor. Masonry is an art form. Being able to combine fired clay, natural stone, formed concrete, glass block, and many other products into a multi-faceted, aesthetically-pleasing, structurally-sound project is sometimes close to miraculous.

People often gaze upon a project and wonder, “How did they do that?”

The answer is simple. Masons were taught. More specifically, they were taught by master masons that took the young apprentices under their wings and showed them the rights and wrongs, ins and outs, and the best ways to perform their craft.

Teaching and apprenticeship is in the natural progression of life. The old teach the young, so that when old age forces the master to leave the trade, there is always young blood to carry on the work.