CS101: Introduction to Hammering

:: academia

In this post, I describe a proposal to redevelop the Construction Science introduction course to use hammers, a standard and state-of-the-art industry tool that students should have experience with.

The current Construction Science (CS) 101 course, Introduction to Building Design, taken by all incoming students in the CS program, teaches students construction design principles using screws and screwdrivers. Students commonly complain about the difficulty of using screwdrivers, which are slow and tedious to use, particularly since much industry work is done with hammers. Many students struggle to pass exams focused on design principles, primarily because the course is taught using such difficult tools.

This course curriculum is doing our students a disservice! They should come out of CS101 with real experience in real tools really used in real industry, like hammers.

I propose we redevelop CS101, and rename the course Introduction to Hammering, to signal our commitment to teaching real industry skills. Instead of teaching with screws and screwdrivers, we should teach the students to use hammers. Assignments should include how to hold a hammer, how to hit a hammer with a nail, etc. Students struggling to pass exams using slow and tedious and difficult tools, like screwdrivers, will be more motivated by practical tools like hammers. But most importantly, coming out of the course, students will have a strong understanding of hammering, and be able to immediately apply this skill in future courses and in industry.

Some argue that teaching hammering is a bad idea, since students will have a tendency to hit their thumbs, and they learn the design principles equally well using screwdrivers. But we can easily teach students not to hit their thumbs. That can be assignment number 1: how to hammer and not hit your thumb (Don’t Hit Your Thumb with the Hammer).

The screwdriver elitists freely admit that screwdrivers are rarely used in industry, but point out that electric screwdrivers are use very often, and the design principles transfer well, and this helps teach good construction design principles and decent tools without subjecting students to painful hammered thumbs. These uses of electric screwdrivers, however, are niche. Hammers are used in practically every industry, including those that use electric screwdrivers.

For all these reasons, therefore, we should redesign our introduction course to teach Introduction to Hammering.