03 January 2008


Graduation is tomorrow, and even though I'm not going to the ceremony, I've been looking back over the last 15 months, thinking about the things I loved and hated about going to Baran. At the top of both the Love and Hate lists: teachers.

I had nine teachers, total. Of those, I love and respect two, I hate one, and like (to varying degrees) the other six. Let's start with the worst.

He's a pompous windbag. He thinks he's funny. He spends as little time welding as possible. He gives the same advice for every welding question: turn up the heat and go faster. He doesn't take refusal seriously, which is why he's the only teacher I ever seriously threatened to hit. (Yes, my braid nearly reaches my waist. Yes, you dated a girl who didn't mind you pulling on her braid. I, however, do mind. No, really. Stop it. I'm not kidding. Seriously. Piss off!) His teaching skills in the classroom are as bad as in the shop. He presents information exactly as we see it in the book, and can't take any other approach. He may be a good welder with lots of experience, but he's not a good teacher.

The teachers I like all have their good and bad qualities. There's the one with more certifications than you can shake an electrode at, who's a wizard at pipe welding, but if you make eye contact with him, he'll launch into a series of stories about near-death experiences he's had on the job over the last forty years. There's the one who gave me a ton of help when I was doing stick welding, but sneered about TIG welding, saying he could do just as well with a soldering gun. There's the ex-Marine who seems to enjoy his job, but has a very traditional approach to math class: if you can't learn it, just memorize it for the test. There's the guy who treats everything like a joke, and is rarely seen without an impish grin on his face, but surprised me when he gave me a demonstration that really helped my pipe welding technique.

The two teachers I love are the reason I'll be going back to visit from time to time. Don and Chris geniunely care about the students' understanding of theory and constantly push us to do better work in the shop. They give praise when it's due, temper their criticism with advice, and appreciate the fact that we've paid a lot of money to learn a trade from them. I rarely see either of them standing around doing nothing. They're always walking around, checking on our progress. They're friendly, helpful, intelligent, caring men, and I will miss both of them.

Monday and Tuesday will be my last days at Baran. Now I need to find a new job and save up enough money to start paying back my student loans. Welcome to the real world... have some debt.