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I had my first welding class today. Our teacher is actually the head of the department, but he had a meeting, so another senior instructor walked us through the shop (pretty much every part of the welding building I hadn't gotten introduced to during Blacksmithing) and played the safety video for us.
Philosophically, my classes this semester are worlds away from the classes I've taken before, whether at the community college or at the university level.
When I asked about the textbook, the instructor suggested that they had some kind of ongoing feud with the bookstore. In both of my classes so far, the instructors didn't even refer to books that the bookstore had listed as "required" and when I asked, the instructor laughed about it. No, I don't need any modern welding textbook. Of the two books he recommended, I've seen one at the used bookstore for about seven bucks, and I found the other one online for $2 plus shipping - and of course I can pick them up when I want to.
In fact, all I need to start working in this class is a pair of safety goggles and some gloves. We talked about stuff we'll need to buy in a few weeks, and stuff we'll probably want to buy if we're going to be doing this seriously and not just taking one class. He gave us the name of a guy who gives students a discount on package deals, but said that frankly they understood if you couldn't buy it all right away and they have loaners of almost everything.
The grading system, like my other class, basically requires that you show up, work, clean up, and produce something at the end of the class. Once I get to the certification classes, that will change, but obviously certification classes expect you to get certified.
It seems like such a sane, straightfoward, sensible setup that I'm a little boggled these classes are taking place at a college at all. The requirements make sense! The professors know you don't have a ton of money to drop right away! It's amazing, it's refreshing, and I'm all for it.