I only just began pottery a year ago. A friend and I, both total beginners who had never used clay before, decided to take a class at a local school.
I have a BA in graphic design but took numerous studio classes in many different areas of art - a requirement in my college before even getting on a computer. My friend had only taken one college level studio class before.
I loved the more "open studio" feel of the class. Just getting the clay into my hands had me excited. Knowing that it was more a open studio class, I ran home to do my own research. The next week of class I had billion questions for my teacher. She patiently answered all my questions, gave me some pointers once I told her what I wanted to accomplish, and then left me to it. It became self appointed homework every week to do research as to what I wanted to try to do the next week. Then I would go in, ask questions, and try it out.
I really love that kind of class structure. I love being left alone to make my own mistakes. I feel like I learned more that way. If I have a question or just want general information I know to be pro-active and just ask. I look at the year I've spent with clay, and I feel all the more accomplished having had bumbled my way through 'on my own.' Maybe in the future I'd like to take a more structured class, but for now I like that my love affair with clay is one where I'm 100% in the driver's seat. My teacher is awesome and her knowledge is expansive, but I like that she's "hands off" until I ask.
That being said, my friend HATED the class. She was waiting for the 'demonstrations with assigned projects' type of class. Once the class was over, she dropped it and has put clay on her "not for me list."