Learning about teaching techniques from domestic appliances? YES, it can be done! You’ll never guess what one of my boys put in the laundry last week. The incident made me think of a number of basic teaching ‘techniques’.

My boys were preparing to go to the Dorchester International Brotherhood Camp: a 2 day whirl wind of activities for 3000+ Scouts and Girl Guides from Canada and the US. (Many thanks to all the volunteers who make this happen…) Things always get a bit tense in the days leading up to this camp as the weather changes and the gear gets packed and repacked. But bless their hearts one of them decided to ‘help’ with the laundry.

I was thrilled that someone was helping with the laundry. But then I went to hang up some of the laundry from the dryer and thought to myself,  “Hmm, that smells odd…”  I had never smelled that in the laundry room. Outside definitely, kitchen maybe, but not the laundry room.

I checked the washing machine and then it happened. You will not believe what I found!

Luckily I was not in a hurry as a fair amount of cleanup was in store. (And those front loading washers are great:  just remember to check in the ‘rim’ for little items or the proverbial ‘missing sock’. Yes, sometime it isn’t the dryer that eats the sock.)

I chuckled to myself, and thought about “I’d love to write about this, but he’ll never let me.” Luckily, he agreed that I could share this story.

So, what did we learn from this domestic incident that we can apply to teaching?

You need to:

  1. Be prepared to LAUGH at yourself (and have others laugh with you). I’ve seen instructors defuse very tense situations in this manner. That is a stark contrast to other instructors who have gotten uptight that a class has laughed at them and then the class atmosphere becomes tense, very tense. If you can laugh at yourself, you gain a ton of credibility with your audience.
  2. Look for analogies everywhere (including in your appliances). Analogies entertain and enlighten. The next time I write I can say to you, “That is like finding ____ in your washing machine!” Yes, that is uncommon, improbable but still very possible.
  3. Understand that using technology is only as good as the person using it. (Back in my days as a programmer/analyst we used to call this the GIGO principle: garbage in, garbage out.) So just because you have a fancy dancy demo rigged up in some new application software, remember to plan and practice. If you do an adhoc demo (with something you’ve never practiced) you could become a GIGO causality in which case see point #1.

What did I find in my washing machine?

Chives. Yes, chives. (I had wrapped leftover chives in a kitchen towel… and the rest is history.)

I know you are laughing…

So what is the craziest thing YOU’VE every found in your washing machine? C’mon, I shared.

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Flickr Creative Commons Image by Shelmac

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