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62 lessons about trades

Lesson 9: Excellence


Questions and task for discussion:

  • • What craft would you like to learn?
  • • Do you think crafts and other professions are the same?
  • • What does a person need in order to become a fine craftsman?
  • • Should everyone have a craft, and why?
  • • Read the story:

The jeweler's secret

M. Skrebtsova

Once upon a time there lived a very fine jeweller. The jewellery that came out of his workshop was famed throughout the whole world. Kings and emperors decked themselves with it. It was even rumoured that his jewelry could bring happiness. In the old jeweller's workshop there were besides himself a number of apprentice-workers, but it wasn't easy to become his apprentice.

Before he would let anyone inside his workshop, the old master would always have a long talk with him in his office. After that the person would be asked to wait for a moment outside, and then the jeweller would come and announce his decision. Most often he refused. Nobody knew exactly what skill it was that the jeweler was looking for in a person who wanted to become his apprentice. One thing, though, everybody knew: everyone who went to work for the old master soon became a great master himself, and day by day their work drew closer to very perfection.

Other master-jewellers often came to see the old jeweller. They asked his apprentices questions, but little was said in reply. The visitors would watch carefully as they worked, and have long conversations with the old master himself, but somehow they never spotted the secret that made the jewellery from this workshop so wonderful. «What could be the secret of such craftsmanship? How are they able to produce such magnificent pieces of work?» they asked themselves in bewilderment, and went away with nothing.

Then one jeweller who had spent a whole month in vain trying to discover the secret of the old jeweller's craft decided it was time for a trick.

One morning, when the old master was not in his office, he crept inside and hid behind a great cabinet that stood in the corner. He knew that in the afternoon the jeweller would be speaking to a young man who had come from very far away, and longed to become an apprentice. The rival jeweller was certain that the conversation would reveal the secrets that he so desperately longed to know.

A while later the old master came into his office, and after him, a thin and anxious young man. The master offered the young man a seat, and then spoke in a quiet voice.

«I want to ask you a few question. But I must warn you - they are not ordinary questions! So, here is the first one:

«Which precious gemstone ought we to call the gem of love?»

The young man furrowed his brows, thought for a moment, and then replied, «My mother's eyes are blue. For me any bluish gemstone is the precious stone of love.»

A slight smile appeared on the old master's face as he asked his second question:

«And what gemstone is the most precious in the world?»

The young man answered, «Can we really say some stones are precious, and others aren't? Every stone becomes precious if it is properly cleaned and cut. It's the hands of the craftsman that are precious. And his eyes, if they are able to find perfection in something that doesn't seem perfect at first glance.»

The old master gave the young man a friendly nod, and asked his next question.
«Is there any ornament on earth that would suit each and every face?»

«Yes, there is,» the young man answered. «A kind heart suits everyone.»

Again the master asked a question.

«What will you say to a king who orders some jewellery from you, though he already has great boxes bulging with it, and his people are starving?»

«I will tell him that his people are his finest ornament. And turn down the order.»

«And if he threatens you?»

«I will make the jewelry he asks for, but sell it for twice as much, and give the extra money to the poor.»

Finally the master reached the last question.

«What if someone tells you that your work is idle?»

«I will not answer him, and just work even harder.»

The old jeweler listened carefully to the young man's answers, and then said to him, «Wait outside for a moment. I will come out soon, and let you know my decision.»

After the young man had left, the old man closed his eyes and whispered, «O Lord! Bless this young man. In his life he is truly striving for the light. He is worthy to rejoice others through his craftsmanship!»

And then the old man opened the door and in a friendly voice told the young man, «You are accepted. You may go to the workshop.»

And the jeweller hiding behind the cabinet cried…

Questions and tasks on the story:

  • Which of the old jeweller's questions do you think was the most important (interesting, simple, difficult), and why? How would you have answered the questions?
  • Why do you think the jeweller hiding behind the cabinet started crying?
  • Can you tell anything about a person from his or her work?
  • What qualities do you think a master-jeweller needs to have, and why?



Ask children whose family members or close friends make things with their hands to bring some examples of their work to class. (For example, a painted tray, wood carvings, embroidery, etc.)

Then, at the next lesson, write the word «craftsman» on the board and circle it.

Then the teacher holds up one of the items for the children to look at and asks them to name the qualities that a person must have in order to make such a thing. All of the words are written around the word «craftsman» and circled in chalk. The result is the flower of craftsmanship for one particular person. Then the child who brought that item from home tells the class about the person who made it.

After that the teacher shows the children another item. In the end there will be as many craftsmanship flowers on the board as there are works of craftsmanship that the children have brought.



Write on the board the saying: «A craft won't weigh down your bag, but it's always there for you.»

Then tell the children this story:

«Two friends set out on a long journey. One of them was very rich, and he took along everything that he could possibly need along the way. The other took nothing with him, but he was a skilled craftsman and could make anything.»

Divide the children into two groups. One group thinks about how to get out of the following difficult situations using the rich man's wealth, and the other group does the same, thinking of how to use the other man's craftsmanship.


  • thieves attack the two friends; the friends;
  • food comes to an end;
  • the friends get lost in the forest.


Written work

Give out cards with the names of different crafts and trades, e.g. potter, stonemason, carpenter, smith, tailor, etc.

Then each child writes a story about how one particular craftsman made something for others.


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