Tinkering School: learning through doing

14 May 2010 — 1 Comment


Gever Tulley, is the founder of Tinkering School and author of the book ‘Fifty Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do).’ He is also a self-taught computer scientist who holds multiple technology patents.

The tinkering school offers an exploratory curriculum designed to help kids – ages 8 to 17 – learn how to build things. By providing a collaborative environment in which to explore basic and advanced building techniques and principles, we strive to create a school where we all learn by fooling around. All activities are hands-on, supervised, and at least partly improvisational.

The process usually starts with a quick sketch of a big idea, then they get to work! Often this involves using ‘dangerous’ tools and equipment. As they encounter problems, they work them out together, learning as they do.

The video below is from Gever Tulley’s presentation at Big Ideas Fest 2009.

Although the movie is a little slow in explaining the educational concepts, there is some real gems in there that apply to all forms of education.

“The best engagement we got was when they were forced to deviate from the materials list.”

Essentially Tulley found that the kids were more engaged and active when they didn’t know the outcome of a project. He articulates it like this:

The opportunities for engaged learning are inversely proportional to the knowability of the outcome

Another point he makes is about the experience of education:

Create a meaningful experience and the learning will follow.
“Our best outcomes were from projects where we focused on the quality of the experience first… and looked for learning inside those experiences.”

Personally, I love this engaging and lively approach to education. Some parents have even started a blog on their experiences of allowing their kids to do the fifty dangerous things in Tulley’s book! Maybe we all need to be a little bit more dangerous in our learning…

Thanks to Boing Boing for this one.

Jon

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I am a qualified youth worker, writer and consultant based in Littlehampton, UK. I've worked in the voluntary youth sector for over 12 years, am married to Kirsty and we have two daughters named Hope and Eloise. Check out 'Journeying Together: Growing Youth Work and Youth Workers in Local Communities' and read my opening chapter.

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