Saturday, February 17, 2007

Washing machine puzzle

You know how family jigsaw puzzling works? Someone sets a big jigsaw out in one of the family rooms and people spend spare minutes working on it, either separately or together but spontaneously, just to pass the time when they happen to be in the room, until it's finished. I love that way of doing things: kind of like working on a wiki website - true, unforced, egalitarian co-operation.

Well, my family's shared puzzle this week is the washing machine, which locked shut after completing a cycle 2 days ago and still refuses to open. We googled and found this great site containing problems and advice for fixing domestic appliances, did some print-outs and there it sits in the kitchen:

for people spend to spare minutes working on it, either separately or together but spontaneously, just to pass the time when they happen to be in the room, until it's fixed.

I like it better than a jigsaw actually, because it's a real life puzzle and one in which we have more of a vested interest in solving (to liberate the clothes trapped inside and enable us to wash more).

It's a brilliant educational project. What are we covering, in Eduspeak? Design Technology, Mechanics, Electronics, IT, Literacy, Group Interaction, Social Skills... probably more if pushed to include it on an education report ;-) It also has the added bonus of saving us £hundreds in both plumbers' services and college tuition fees. So if we manage to get it working as well, it's an all-round winner.

The best kind of practical learning happens through necessity as part of normal healthy functioning family life. Another example happened last night: we were writing a shopping list and Lyddie said she wanted fish, but we were all too busy (on the washing machine puzzle mainly) by then for someone to break off and write it down for her. So I shouted the letters and she wrote it herself. Her first writing! She got her fish too.

I remember from my school days a certain feeling of pointlessness. We were learning to read, write, do maths and science etc., but as abstract exercises these thngs don't mean very much. However, remove school from the equation and add in the factors of a fixed washing-machine and some fish and suddenly these lessons become real, worthwhile, interesting and fun.

It's also much more satisfying to fix your own washing machine than it is to sit like a helpless baby waiting for a professional washing-machine fixer to come to the rescue.


Blogger Allie said...

I hate domestic appliance problems. Probably because I have no confidence and a somewhat irrational fear of all electrical appliances. I expect them to blow up if I so much as loosen a screw on the back.

I will tackle plumbing problems if forced to!

Good luck with it.

Our kids are writing loads at the moment - all needs based. I can't imagine making them write things down for the sake of it. They seem to find so many reasons for writing.

3:12 pm, February 17, 2007  
Blogger Louise said...

Oh boy, I am sending "open your door" vibes to your washer...but then it'll be back to the jigsaws!!

I try getting a jigsaw out, then find bits scatter everywhere, I have contemplated one of those jig-rolls but they are not cheap!

8:01 pm, February 17, 2007  
Blogger mamadillo said...

I like for domestic appliance stuff. It's funny, electrical stuff I'm alright with but plumbing I'm not, I figure if the electrical thing doesn't work/goes bang I can just disconnect it again but if plumbing goes wrong I have water everwhere.

12:17 am, February 18, 2007  
Blogger mamadillo said...

PS plumbing in washing machines and clearing drains is another matter. I think it might be the welding thing that puts me off 'proper' plumbing.

12:20 am, February 18, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Thanks Trog, will check there too.
We've nearly solved it actually - we're 95% sure the sump is blocked and we're 90% sure which bit the sump is and about 60% sure we know how to remove it in such a way that it can be safely emptied and put back on again, but that's just not quite sure enough for anyone to dare pick up the screwdriver and DO it! More research required I think.

And you can plumb without welding nowadays! Push-fit joints for the win!

9:30 am, February 18, 2007  
Blogger mamadillo said...

ah well, we have clients for that anyway ;)

6:50 pm, February 19, 2007  
Blogger Schuyler said...

Oh, that is beautiful. I would love to work on that jigsaw puzzle, well, if I had enough laundry done to get by for a while ::grin::

6:56 pm, February 23, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

We fixed it! For now anyway ;-)

10:42 am, February 24, 2007  

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