Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Continuing with Ed. What about the tradesman?

Everywhere you look, it seems, we are bombarded with advertisements showcasing various two year courses geared toward either training us for a new career or gaining a leg up on others along our existing path.  Maybe I have the tendency to notice these advertisements a little more, after all I have been in school for nearly most of my life.  My guess is I am not the exception, however, more of the rule these days as many more professionals are going back or have never really left school in search of something more.  What about plumbers?

We live in a country that is geared specifically, with very few exceptions, toward readying us for the next level.  When you enter grade school you are milled into the machine that will, through repetition, have you ready to move onto middle school in just a few short years.  As history repeats itself, this continues through high school and then onto college.  Some choose a different path along the way.  I did but not after realizing that the University of Minnesota Engineering school just wasn't for me.  That path, trade school.  I still remember thinking how much more simple it seemed that I would go to work, doing something I enjoyed, and then go to school a couple nights a week all the while getting paid at the end of the week. Well I am still there, on the other side of the desk part of the time but, if you ask my kids where I am most nights you are likely to get one of three answers....work (because I own my own business and when the phone rings...), fishing or school. 

Naturally I prefer the fishing answer the most but the reality is, more often than not, I am either teaching a subject or devouring as much as I can about a subject somewhere either close to home or even half way across the country.

After finishing trade school locally I then continued on in the industry as a worker bee, only to realize I needed to prepare myself for the next level.  Sound familiar? Add to this the invitation to teach for Mpls Local 15 about five or six years ago and, ten years later and a few dozen classes completed, I find myself holding course completion certificates and syllabi amassed with great fervor along the way.  I would have to say that teaching trade school classes to apprentices and journeyman plumbers has lent as much opportunity to learn, for myself, as I could possibly hope to return to my students.  I enjoy it immensely, and will continue to do it as long as they will have me.  After all, I too learn so much each night spent in class.   

I keep a quote I printed out and taped to the wall near my home office computer, I don't know exactly who said it but it rings true for so many of us, me in particular.  I reads "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less". 

Change for me comes in the form of learning.  New skills, new tools or methods.  We all have the need for change.  The plumbing and heating industry is no different than many others; if your going to offer the very best to your customers you have to stay on top of your game.  My game, for so many years it seems, is held in the classroom.  After all, if your not learning something new your just wasting your time.