tinkering school

a while ago, a neighbor of mine passed along information about a tinkeringschool camp that kids can attend. while i don't think we could afford a camp like this one (especially for two), i do think we can afford to listen to the ideas they represent like let your kids play a little more dangerously. they believe our kids are getting "warning labeled" to death. (when you click the link above, be sure to note the warning labels they have written!)

we as parents are often made to feel guilty about not obeying the warning labels. we keep the kids away from knives, tools, and any other foreseeable danger. we think we can keep them safe, but perhaps our levels of safety are a little stifling? i remember roaming with much more freedom as a child: ice skating on frozen ponds, riding on sleds tied to a four wheeler (and often one of us would get twisted in the rope and drug along with the sled banging us around), jumping into hay bails from the loft in a barn, racing our bikes down the middle of the street, riding a moped~ while i was under ten. obviously, i grew up in more of a rural setting than my kids are, but i think there is room for me to give them more space.

one of the great ideas that the tinkering school has is to allow your kids to take things apart. as soon as i listened to the TED talk below, i knew my oliver would jump at this opportunity. so a few weeks ago, on a quiet sunday afternoon, i gave him an old electronic toy and some tools to take it apart. my plan was to read. as i sat across from him on our couch, i just couldn't stop watching him. his face showed so much joy, anticipation, and thrill of discovery. brian also couldn't help joining in with him~ watching oliver see what a speaker looks like and how it's magnetized. you'll see his delight when you watch the slideshow. we now often hear him saying, "hey nic, you wanna tinker?"

and if you have time to listen to the TED talk, you'll get a kick out of it. i'd love to hear if you grew up with more freedom or safety and perhaps your reactions to Gever Tulley's ideas.
oh, and if anyone wants to sponsor a prentiss boy to go to the camp, send your checks to me! heh.


Anonymous said...

I appreciate this post. I am reading and enjoying "Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Kids from Nature-Deficit Disorder" and it follows some similar thinking related to kids roaming and more freely discovering outdoors. This book and your tinkering post gave me more confidence in how I'm using my time with the girls during the day. The girls say one of our mantras is "Less toys, more room to create!" And you don't necessarily need $1200 per week to accomplish that! ;)

-The other Katie (Chen)

Elizabeth Dark Wiley said...

Your post reminded me of an article I just read from the UTNE Reader about the future of creativity. A similar line of thinking you might find interesting:


Anonymous said...

Hi Katie...this post was very thought provoking to me! My parents let us roam around the woods, we would go 4 wheeling with neighbors, ride bikes all over the neighborhood, and even go "exploring" in a small gorge that was next to our house. It seems crazy to me now! But I realize that I need to let Sophie out to explore more...I know I love adventure and I want her to, too! Stacey Daniel

brian prentiss said...

what a great slideshow, I hadn't seen these pics! He's beaming!

Anonymous said...

I DO love this little tinker-er! You can just see his wheels spinning. I esp. love the one w/ his hand on B's hand/wrist. Sooo sweet.

Abbie said...

I enjoyed watching this very TED talk several months ago....loved it. (There are lots of good ones...do you have other favorites??)

My 6 yr old son loves "tinkering" as well. It's fun to watch him become absorbed in the disassembly process!