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?
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.