Don't judge that book so quickly

August 28, 2008
By: Dan Davis

Colleagues and I were out to lunch this week with some welding educators from Rock Valley Community College in
Rockford, Ill. We were discussing their recent activities and goals for the program; we were mining them for story ideas and ways we could better serve our welding readers.

The educators said that all welding classes have the minimum number of students—10—so no classes were canceled this fall semester. More students are showing an interest in welding as a possible career.

Of course, these students aren"t like the ones from 40 years ago. In fact, they don"t have much in common with students only 20 years ago,.

One of the educators mentioned a class this summer in which a heavily tattooed young man, with several piercings and a hat cocked slightly to the right, sat in the back of his class. The educator, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, immediately sensed trouble. Tattoo Man didn"t look like a good student, so he wasn"t going to act like one either.

Lo and behold, he was wrong. The welding instructor called him the most respectful student he had ever taught. The
student was soft-spoken, but earnest and studious. In a way, he was the perfect student.

If you weld for a living, you might find it hard to run into someone who"s not tattooed. Welding folks are people who like to work with their hands and have a creative side, whether they acknowledge it or not.

And these are the types of young people I see who are interested in welding. In addition to the tattoos, they might have piercings and colored hair. They have no problems expressing themselves and have interest in careers where they can continue that self-expression.

These young people want to have fun. They are used to working in multicultural environments. They want flexibility in their lives. They want to be challenged and hate menial tasks. If you don"t get all of that, you won"t get these young people to work for you.

Want to learn how to relate to the kids of today? Try being like an adult of yesterday—well, 10 years ago, to be exact.

This is the 10th anniversary of the release of The Big Lebowski, a movie about a middle-aged stoner that just wants to replace his rug that a punk peed on. (It tied the room together, man, Jeff Bridges" Lebowski character moans throughout the film.) He gets involved in an exotic escapade involving a fake kidnapping, German nihilists, artistic freaks, and Tara Reid. Lebowski also loves to bowl and does quite a bit of it in the film.

The movie bombed when it premiered, but it"s safe to call it a cult classic now.

People love the Dude. He lives life on his own schedule, eschews technology, and hates the Eagles (probably one of the most controversial parts of the movie).

Kids today can identify with the Dude. They are not ready to dedicate their lives to the pursuit of sloth, but they
won"t sacrifice family, friends, and fun times to work 60 hours in the name of Project X.

Of course, it"s hard to generalize about a whole generation of people, but experts agree that some basic traits are
overwhelmingly present amongst throngs of people. At the very least, it"s safe to say that you shouldn"t judge a
book by its cover, because you never know how the story turns out.

Dan Davis

Dan Davis

FMA Communications Inc.
2135 Point Blvd
Elgin, IL 60123
Phone: 815-227-8281