Lessons In Learning: Reminded HOW To Learn By My Plumber

How learning a new set of skills to plumb my project house reminded me of the emotional and mental rollercoaster of learning something totally new.

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This summer I am rehabbing/rebuilding a house across from my parents.  To keep costs low we are doing the bulk of the work ourselves.  This is something I learned from early in my youth, as my father was also a teacher, and each summer we completely built or remodeled a house between mid May and mid August. Granted, we took a decade or so off as my father started his second career in retirement and I found myself putting new sheet metal on a hog excrement pit covered in rat poo and decided my master’s degree could be put to more sanitary use teaching at the local college.  But I digress.

Technology and skills change in the residential building industry and it was time to learn a new plumbing system using cross-linked polyethylene (PEX).  This was an entirely new system with different rules, methods, and restrictions.  My plumbing/HVAC guy was kind enought to allow me to use his tools and work along side his team plumbing while they did HVAC. I would do the work, he would inspect and ensure I met codes and restrictions, in essence I was subcontracting for my subcontractor.

While this sounds like a great deal, it is absolutely nerve racking as professionals in all crafts are proud of their work and protective of their trade, much like education.  What it really meant was I was under the gun and under inspection to live up to expectations like every new guy on a crew.  As a middle aged man, my new boss was the 24 year old plumber’s assistant. I received a VERY quick lesson in the tools and fittings and was sent to the crawl space to get started.  It was here that I was accutely reminded what it is like to be a student, learning something entirely new, given an assignment, given a deadline, and expected to pass the test…err inspection.

There were a few lessons I learned through this process that I think are very applicale to the classroom and are poinant reminders to me as a teacher what it is really like some days to be on the other side of the educational process.  CLICK HERE to take a look at this 7 minute Vlog below.

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