Remember your first watch? Not the nice one you wear now, or the one you had in college or high school, but your very first one? My wife and I bought our daughter her first watch about two years ago. She was eight at the time, and we were trying to teach her how to read the hands. It took some convincing on our part that, “yes, you do need to learn how to tell time with an analog clock.” “What does analog mean…?” she says. “I like the one with the numbers on it…”
After a few days, she got the hang of it: “Dad! It’s 3 o’clock!”
“Dad! It’s 3:01!”
“OKAY, THANK YOU…”
So one of my co-workers and I were talking today about the good-ol’-days, when we used to teach the Marines how to do woodwork. Now, it is just the civilians that build and construct things. Some of the guys we worked with had never held a hammer before, let alone built something with their own two hands. Nothing against them, it’s just that they have never had to. I didn’t learn to drive a manual transmission until I was 25. I didn’t ever need to. All of my cars until that point were automatic. Many schools have eliminated shop classes, industrial arts, and auto body. I graduated high school in 1997 and all my school had left was industrial arts. Many of these guys have never been exposed to working with wood, and constructing something from the ground up. “There’s an app for that…”
About a year ago, I was designing a new table, or work station, or something. I don’t remember. I am known for my Glenn Beck style of teaching, using every dry-erase board in the shop to try to explain my point or how to do something. I am going over some measurements, adding things up and explaining how to make this what-ever-it-was. One of the guys said, “Can you teach me how to read a tape measure?” What? I was mid-sentence, explaining my brilliant design and construction plan, and you interrupt me with some smart-alec, “how-do-you-read-a-tape-measure” comment? Really!?
He was serious. He didn’t know.
So there I was…
I felt like a (I will keep this G-Rated…) heel. How long have I taken for granted that I can read a tape measure? How many others can’t read one and don’t have the stones to say so? How long am I gonna stare at this poor guy before I say something…?
Time to erase the board.
“Have a seat gents. Class time!”
Off we went, counting, figuring, and making pizza slice analogies. We spent the better part of an hour learning the tape measure: How to read it; how to use it; why the hook slides back and forth (“no guys, it is not broken…who the hell glued this thing down!?”). It was great. I showed them every tip, trick and short-cut I knew. But there’s an app for that…Yeah? What happens when your APP runs out of batteries? They started learning. Their brains sucked up knowledge like a Sham-Wow. I drew problems for them to figure out and they were getting it. This guy took the initiative and had the humility to admit he didn’t know how to do something. He asked questions, listened, and applied what he learned. I felt better knowing that I taught him and the others a skill that they can use outside of the Marine Corps. Off they went to conquer…
“Chris! This one is four feet!”
“Chris! This one is three-and-a-half inches!”
“Chris! I thought this was called a 2-by-4. How come…?
My website: http://www.projectwoodworks.com/page1.php
-- christopheralan http://www.projectwoodworks.com