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Sat Apr 4, 2015, 11:54 AM

Learning Through Tinkering

Last edited Sat Apr 4, 2015, 12:39 PM - Edit history (1)

My 9-year-old daughter is in the midst of a “pioneer” unit in her third grade class. It’s a great example of a project-based curriculum: The kids are developing math skills by determining what and how much they can pack without overloading wagons for a cross-country trek. They roll a “twist of fate” die that presents (virtual) obstacles they might have faced in the late 19th century — bad weather, loss of livestock, etc. — and then have to problem-solve to get their trek back on track. They’re reading a variety of historical perspectives, such as Louise Erdrich’s “The Birchbark House” and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House” books. And perhaps most important, they’re learning about self-sufficiency and resilience — and how even the youngest kids needed it in spades.

Before the Industrial Revolution really kicked into high gear, people had to know how to do everything, from navigating routes to preserving food, building homes to sewing clothes. You couldn’t head to the nearest supermarket or mall, you had to figure out how to make it, catch it, build it or grow it. For contemporary kids used to streaming video, play dates and even drone delivery, it’s illuminating to learn about this. And it’s not something easily — or typically — conveyed through grade school homework.

I’m not nostalgic for pioneer days. I’m a huge fan of modern conveniences. But as we’ve become so disconnected from where things come from, from the knowledge, resources and effort required to fulfill even the most basic needs, I believe we’ve lost something essential (if intangible). That’s why I want to talk about two amazing endeavors geared toward cultivating that sort of resourcefulness and creativity.

If we want to raise kids to be independent thinkers and change-makers, one of the best things we can do is give them the tools to figure stuff out for themselves. And a terrific manual for that is “50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do),” by Gever Tulley, a self-taught software engineer.

“There are not enough opportunities in a child’s life to be taken seriously, to be given autonomy and to learn authentically,” says Tulley. “I think they need learning opportunities that respect and incorporate their ideas.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/04/opinion/learning-through-tinkering.html?&hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=c-column-top-span-region®ion=c-column-top-span-region&WT.nav=c-column-top-span-region&_r=0

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elleng Apr 2015 OP
LiberalEsto Apr 2015 #1
elleng Apr 2015 #2
AllyCat Apr 2015 #3

Response to elleng (Original post)

Sat Apr 4, 2015, 12:27 PM

1. My older daughter (now adult) told me the best thing I did as a mom

 

was to tell them, "It's not my job to entertain you. Go figure out something to do."






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Response to LiberalEsto (Reply #1)

Sat Apr 4, 2015, 12:30 PM

2. Good one!

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Response to elleng (Original post)

Sat Apr 4, 2015, 11:05 PM

3. We did a class project like this in the '70s. Loved it. I still remember it.

Wish we could do his in our school system. Alas, it is all testing, all the time.

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