New teaching skills strategy

I grew up making things.  Helping my step-dad and his brother build our house; helping my dad build a big extension on his house.  Plumbing, electrical, ditch digging, carpentry, and design (both dads are architects).  We had a “shop” at both houses; mostly a wood shop with some mechanic type tools. Step-dad was also handy fixing cars, which was useful given the old used cars we mostly had back then.  I also had to learn to fix my first car (only cost $250!) which  towed to our place because it didn’t run when I bought it.

I’ve wanted to get Geek more hands-on with tools and into the shop but the truth is I haven’t done a good job of it, sadly.  I’ve been struggling to figure out why and how to get better.  I found it difficult when he was younger but now that he’s nearly 15 (!) I think I finally figured out the strategy:  I’m not allowed to hold any tool or workpiece for more than 60 seconds.  If I’ve held it longer than that then I’m failing.  Also I asked him to ask for the tool back after I’ve done enough showing if I forget and keep going.

This was very difficult for me at first.  Patience is something that doesn’t come easily for me and usually I have 20,000 other things to do so I want to get the current task DONE and move on.  But now I simply get Geek to help me fix anything that needs fixing or make anything he wants/needs, and the 60 second rule applies.  It’s working great so far (3 projects – he even fixed the kitchen sink drain a couple of nights ago!).

Now patience is still a challenge; when he’s making something in the shop I often have to have my own interruptible project that I work on while he’s doing some steps on his because I seem to be unable to just stand there doing nothing (ok, watching) for any length of time.  So we’ll talk about the next step in the project, I’ll show him the tools involved and how to use them, then I’ll watch as he starts to use the tool to see if I can offer any tips.  Once he seems to have it under control I’ll step aside and go clean up a corner of the shop, or fix something laying around in the shop awaiting my attention – doesn’t matter what as long as it’s easily interruptible if he needs a second pair of hands on something or has a question.  I glance over from time to time, and wander over to see how things are going and see if I can offer any pointers on tool use or whatever.  Nice companionable time in the shop and I’m feeling good about making progress on this!

Anyway, just thought I’d toss this out there for others similarly challenged.  peace.


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