Learning To Weld
Welding is a developed skill that requires hands on practice to become proficient at welding. There is no “study time” more valuable than that spent under the hood. With that being said, understand that the “value” of the time under the hood is greatly increased when a core knowledge related to what is being done exists under the hood also. Knowledge of the process, materials, terms, metallurgical effects, inspection methods, acceptance criteria, and joint details can all increase our awareness of what we are doing.
Practice-Supervised is Better
The time spent practicing can develop good habits or bad habits. But regardless, you are building muscle memory and allowing what is happening at the weld flow through your eyes to your brain and back again to your hands. With supervised training, an instructor can observe what your doing, and add to what is going into your brain to allow for corrections to occur faster. So if you have the chance to weld with someone experienced watching, DO. Though some instructors may address things incorrectly, they can still help you build your skill.
Knowledge-Face to Face, Self Taught, Blended
The knowledge portions related to welding can be very comprehensive or very basic. Some instructors may like to spend many hours in the classroom, others may avoid it at all costs. The good thing about the “knowledge” parts of welding is this. You can do it any time! There are many resources for learning and environments to learn in. Face to Face learning is a general term for convention teacher/student interaction. Self Taught is learning without an instructor to guide you. And blended could be a combination of both. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.
Face to Face
This requires an instructor the majority of the time. Often times in includes an instructor lecturing to a group and expecting everyone to “soak it in”. The schedule is around that of the instructor. While this is occurring, students are NOT in the shop.
This type of learning really is the one we are using every day. Sure, it may take us years to learn something but when we do WE OWN IT!. Think about a hobby you are interested in. Do you buy books and magazines and read about it whenever time permits? Is it the activity you look forward to getting better at and often find yourself thinking about it during the day? It is a powerful way to learn but it has a disadvantage. If you are not interested in the topic, you just will not learn it or it will take a terribly long time.
Blended learning probably has some more specific “educational definitions” than what I am about to present. The other terms probably do also. Blended learning to me is combining the resources of an instructor with the drive and motivation of a student to increase learning opportunities by instructor facilitated resources and activities that encourage a student to increase knowledge regarding a subject.
What is Best?
I have no idea. There are many papers written about education that discuss these subjects in a much more detailed way than I do. My opinion on what is the best is purely that. In welding, I think there are two kinds of students. Those that think by their presence and participation, they will “get a trophy” and there are those that think there are only a few trophies and they want one of them…or all of em.
I strongly encourage anyone who is interested in something that they could make a living at to pursue it with passion. Understanding that they may not be the best but that they can strive for that always. I really enjoy sharing information about welding and should you need any help along your path of learning, please feel free to let me know.