This video documents an important step in my growth as a novice in this Soulcraft Cohort work, but the step isn’t shown in the video. It happened about an hour before we ever hit record.
I had built three walls of the boombox, and had done all the acoustic panelling with the woodblocks, and I had arrived at the shop ready to work on the front piece. I knew it was going to be tough work and that I was going to be pushed to try things that I hadn’t tried. Volume sliders, a speaker panel, and some kind of lid mechanism were all called for, and I knew absolutely nothing about how to do any of it. They were just ideas, drawings in my head, and I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to get my hands to carry it all out.
Peter was in the shop working on a new lamp, and he looked pretty engrossed in it. I didn’t want to bother him, but my project had hit a brick wall and I needed help. Having just felt something similar when the whole team was working the previous Saturday, I was very mindful to take the least amount of time from Peter that I could possibly take. My question had to be succinct, and lead him into a very quick and easy answer.
“I don’t know how to cut holes in wood when I have to start in the middle of the board.”
In order to cut the speaker hole, and the holes for the volume sliders, I knew I couldn’t use a band saw, chop saw, or table saw, but those were the only tools I knew how to work aside from the jointer and planer. Peter quickly showed me the drill press machine, and taught me that I could drill holes in wood with a special bit. After I drilled the holes, I could take a handheld jigsaw and finish the cuts I needed.
Easy-Peasy. Peter went back to work and I got started. Next thing I knew, I was ready to make the video.
The thing I learned is that it’s important to know when to ask a question, and how best to ask the right one. I didn’t get Peter involved in my whole problem, which would have taken more time in discussion. Instead, I identified exactly what I needed to learn for the immediate next step, and then stated it to Peter directly. I think it’s also important that I didn’t quite ask a question, I simply stated my problem. In a relationship in which a design framework is understood with depth, I could rely on Peter’s facility with problem solving as a starting point to finding a solution, and I could trust that he’d take the next steps to design the best answer, in this case, showing me the drill press and handheld jigsaw.
Applied to teaching in a problem-based classroom, I think my takeaway is that it might be interesting to have students learn how to maximize time by leading not with a question, but a specific problem statement. I’m not exactly sure what I mean yet, but there’s something to having students be mindful of the teacher’s time, especially as PBL work is quite a bit more time intensive especially during feedback conversations.