Common knowledge perspective

Today I was reminded that common knowledge sometimes isn’t. It’s easy to assume that because you know something and have known it for years and years, everybody else knows it too.  But that isn’t always the case.

Two Tuesdays from now I will be facilitating a carpentry workshop for about 8 parents.  I’ve never actually run a carpentry workshop before, but I have attended one!

This workshop is part of a series we call “Play Workshops.”  We get the parents to think about what their role is when their children are exploring and using that particular area of play; what kind of safety issues they need to think about, how to set up the area, what equipment they need, role-modelling the use of the tools, language, and social skills, and how to extend the children’s learning.

Many new parents to Playcentre freak out about the carpentry play area.  “You use REAL saws? REAL hammers? REAL hand drills? Won’t the children hurt themselves?”  The answer is no, not if the parent actively supervises the children using them and teaches them how to use them properly.

It’s actually safer in the long run to have the children learn with the real tools. Teach them how to use them properly and then when they find a saw or a hammer in the garage, they’ll treat it with the respect it deserves.

Anyways, as I was researching the information I needed to run the workshop, I came across an article that describes this exact workshop from another Playcentre Association.

The exact quote that increased my perspective is this: “Next it was time for tools.  Lots of them. We looked at hammers, saws, many nails, drills and some optional extras. I learnt that steel nails are easier to use than galvanized nails. The mysteries of the vice were explained and I can now use one to secure a piece of wood.”

I had to read it a couple of times. It never occurred to me that an adult would not know how to use a vice.  I grew up watching my DIY father and my Master Carpenter grandfather using all of their tools (and letting me help, too!). And in junior high school, a carpentry class was mandatory for boys and girls.

It made me think back to all the times I’d been a supervisor on session where I would watch all the parents at the carpentry table just standing there.  Were they standing there nervously because they, themselves, had never handled the tools and therefore weren’t sure how to help the children learn?

Perspective indeed.

So, for my workshop I’ve now added a section on learning about the tools, what they do, and how to work them. I’ll adjust it if it turns out all of Tuesday’s participants were like me and already know how they work.  But I’m no longer going to just assume it’s common knowledge.


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About Broot

Thoughts about learning and life that are lost in a sea of blogs.

10 responses to “Common knowledge perspective”

  1. Jenny@PracticallyPerfect says :

    That’s definitely true. I know somewhat about tools because of how I was raised, but it’s certainly not the case for everyone, especially not nowadays in this modern, “hire someone else to do it for you” kind of world.

    We actually visited a Playcentre yesterday! I’m thinking about doing it with Joe once he’s a bit older 🙂

  2. Callie says :

    Awesome post 🙂 I know nothing about tools so I’m definitely one of those parents who stand nervously at the carpentry table at Playcenter and not really know how to help my daughter … well, short of assisting her in hammering a nail into a block of wood! Just last week she picked up one tool and asked me what it was, and I had absolutely no idea. I suspected it might be missing a part to it, but really didn’t know for sure…
    @ Jenny – don’t wait until your son’s older – the younger they start their Playcenter life the better! Just make sure you’ve sorted out a good supply of messy play clothes! 🙂

  3. solodialogue says :

    I wouldn’t think about people not understanding tools either, not because I was exposed to it a lot but because I’ve built crappy doll houses and such when I was younger… You are right though – it is all a matter of perspective! You are a sweetheart for recognizing that and doing your best to prepare everyone! 🙂

  4. eof737 says :

    What a eureka moment! As a trainer/teacher, I’ve come to the same conclusion… Don’t assume people know what you’re talking about; ask and then explain fully! Best wishes on your workshop… I know very little about DIY tools too. 😉

  5. Christa aka the BabbyMama says :

    I think your new addition is a great idea! I’m totally guilty of the “Why don’t you know that?” gaff, so I can sympathize. It’s made me realize I shouldn’t be in the role of teacher unless absolutely necessary – or unless I’m teaching my own child who I know doesn’t know 😉

  6. Jenn @ You know...that Blog? says :

    Excellent! I completely agree with teaching kids using the real thing. I even go as far as to teach my kids about firearms, and how to handle them responsibly. You know the Teen is a Level 4 (highest) marksman, but Wee One is still quite nervous about them. Totally fine either way, but taking the mystery away and teaching responsible handling is key to pretty much anything that could be dangerous.

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