a fun, productive Saturday afternoon

23 02 2011

Last weekend I took apart an old, dead commando (Victa mower that is) and enjoyed getting dirty and learning about carburettors. This broken mower had been disposed of at a rubbish recycling depot and salvaged to be sold at their shop for $15. I was after a mower the same as an old one we have and thought it would be useful for parts. It still had compression when I pulled on the rope so thought it might be worth getting.

Victa commando

On getting it home it actually seemed in better nick (wheels & frame) than my other one, so thought I should have a go at cleaning it up and seeing if I could get it going. I thought I might see if there was an online manual for the mower so I’d be able to get it all back together if I pulled it apart. I actually found a couple of videos on youtube where a young fellow (geoff390) had recorded his attempts at dismantling and reassembling one of these mowers. Watching this helped me understand what would need doing to return the¬†carburettor back to working condition.

So, pulling everything apart was easy enough, and I worked out what parts I’d need to get it back into working order. It seemed that things were a little clogged up with gunk so I needed to clean the parts in petrol and to find an air filter, an o ring, some fuel line, and a set of blades. A couple of hours later I had it all back together (thanks to John for the parts) and tentatively pulled the rope. It started first go! There was a metallic click from the blades as it was running though, and I discovered I’d put the platter & blades on upside-down (a Murphy’s Law design problem) but fixed that easily enough. After parts, I now have a $31 mower that’ll go for a few years yet…

A wonderful (and successful) learning experience that’s got me thinking about purpose, intention, & passion in education. I’ll blog somewhere else about that…


21 11 2007

An academic recently wrote in the Higher Education supplement of The Australian that he thought (school) teaching was about motivating students. He suggested that uni students were motivated already so all the lecturer had to do was pass on their knowledge of the subject area. My goodness! I wonder what he thinks learning is – memorising stuff?

So, I’ve been thinking about learning a bit lately, well, learning and teaching. I think the two go together. Is the notion that learning is about gaining knowledge and teaching teaching is about passing on knowledge too simplistic (other than providing a basic definition)?

It’s not that you can’t learn without being taught – we often come to a better understanding of things on our own, without the help of another. We find and give ourselves the new knowledge – we’re teaching ourselves.

So, we can learn – but can we teach ourselves to learn? Why do we need a teacher? Only because the teacher already knows more than us? Can the teacher show us new ways to learn? Expose us to new knowledge and ideas that encourage our ability to go on and make sense of new things ourselves. It all depends on the context and content… It’s a complex process – and not just about one passing on facts to another. It’s more about relationship and one knowing the other and understanding how best to support the other to make meaning from the input (facts etc.) they receive.