Home Ed 101

Life in renovation nation goes on. We’re replacing part of the garage floor so we can replace the charming-but-beyond-repair swinging doors with new overhead doors.

garage doors before  Before

 pouring new garage floor New floor in process

And we’re rebuilding from scratch the wall that supports the two columns that hold up the front porch roof as it extends over the driveway (aka the porte cochere). 

leaning pier before    pier removed 
Leaning pier before                          Waiting for new pier

It has been a big, messy project, requiring a lot of demo, hauling broken concrete and dirt, digging new footers, stacking old bricks to save for some future project, pouring new concrete, laying new block, setting new columns, finishing the block with stucco, reframing for the new garage doors, and installing the doors and openers. We still have the last 5 of those steps to go. It seems endless.

More than anything, projects like these renew my awe of people who know how to do this stuff. (Who are few and far between, apparently, based on how hard it is to find people able and willing to do home repairs.) I wish I knew how to do more of it — frame up something, lay brick, build a concrete form. I’ve been around all of this in the process of building a couple of houses (or rather, having them built), and in helping to do DIY building and remodeling projects, but I couldn’t do it myself. (The key seems to be having the right tools and equipment, along with the know-how.)

Considering that most Americans will become homeowners one day (66.2% according to the 2000 Census), why not teach kids how to be better at it? 

I bet you took home ec and shop class in junior high like I did. Basic sewing and cooking was useful, I suppose, but in shop class (“Industrial Arts”), the projects required equipment like a forge and a lathe and a drill press that isn’t likely to be had in most homes.

What would have been helpful? Learning how to install a dimmer switch or hang a ceiling fan, how to change a faucet or repair a leaky one, how to replace the guts of a leaky toilet, how to rewire a lamp, how to spackle & paint — not rocket science, just basics that every homeowner is likely to encounter.

Sure, some people learn this from their parents (but I didn’t), and you can learn it later through books, the Web, workshops at Lowe’s & Home Depot, and trial & error. But why not get kids familiar with it early on? Maybe foster an interest in renovation and historic preservation. Maybe instill the idea of pride of ownership. Maybe inspire a new generation of architects, builders, electricians, masons, plumbers…or a generation that can actually handle a little of all of those themselves.

We have HGTV. How about HGED?

You can get all A’s and still flunk life.
                                   ~ Walker Percy

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1 Comment

  1. Mel L said,

    Thursday, November 1, 2007 at 2:33 pm

    what a great idea! I love it. so pragmatic. and to teach salvage and repair, instead of touting “just throw it away if it breaks!” BRILLiant, my dear. private schools will never go for it (too unattractive and common) but maybe a public middle or high?


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