Home Improvement 101: Course Philosophy and Schedule

Hosted by OSHER Life Long Learning Institute

The physical elements of your home can become creative spaces with some developed skills, much like an instrument can become a creative device once the basics have been mastered. This course considers home improvement a process of applying skills and knowledge to little challenges. This orientation is notably different from a course philosophy based on learning procedures, steps, or rules for a set of tasks. The little saying "teach a man to fish..." may come to mind, and is a valuable principle indeed. How one teaches somebody to fish, however, is not elaborated in the saying at all! A quick comparison of approaches may be illuminating:

Skill Application Learning Approach Procedures / Steps Learning Approach
Skills taught are applicable to a range of cases Procedures taught are usually case-specific
Students are explorers and experimenters Students are absorbers and replicators
Students are asked to derive essential steps in a process and note for themselves how they vary from case to case Students are shown steps and asked to replicate them in a case that is very similar to the demonstrated example
The teacher acts as a supporter and guide, most of the time The teacher acts as a distributor of tasks, steps, and directives, most of the time
Class time focuses on developing core skills and applying them to a few use cases Little or no differentiation between core skills and peripheral skills is made and use cases presented are not contextualized in the wider set of possible use cases

Course Schedule

Consider this schedule tentative until the week of each course. Since this is a first pass through this course, the content and progression of skills will be adjusted to make the course as useful as possible for the students currently enrolled

Day # Date Core Topic Core Skills / Learning Objectives Learning Activities
1 12 May 2017 Materials and fasteners (nails, screws, and bolts)
  • Identify common materials found in houses and discuss their strengths and weaknesses (both metaphoric and literal)
  • Describe the differences between essential fastener types
  • Operate and setup a variable speed drill
  • Install wood screw fasteners to join pine boards
  • Material ID challenge
  • Fastener sorting
  • Pilot hole size experiment
2 19 May 2017 Wall anchors and level hanging
  • Discuss the value and challenges associated with sheet rock as a common wall covering
  • Hang a panel of sheet rock with properly set screws
  • Construct a sturdy wood wall frame from pine milled lumber
  • Discuss common anchor types and their best application
  • Given a mounting/hanging task, choose and install an appropriate anchor
  • Layout and install level wall hangings
  • Hanging a sheetrock panel
  • Build a Great Wall frame
  • 6 Anchor stations: anchors 1; anchors 2; picture frames; blinds; stud finding; strength experimentation
3 26 May 2017 Molding installation and finishing essentials
4 2 June 2017 Appliances and plumbing basics
5 9 June 2017 Electricity Zap 1
6 16 June 2017 Electricity Zap 2
7 23 June 2017 Student home improvement project presentations

Students: please come prepared to present/discuss your home improvement project with the class. Bring in any artifacts you have to share (hands-on course!). Email Xander a project overview and photos for posting on this site to share with students around the interwebs.