I was recently introduced to an educational concept I’m completely in love with, called The Tinkering School. It’s right up my alley in a Maker Faire kind of way, calling straight to the heart of my inner child. As well, it sweetly validated a general sense of parental philosophy when it comes to learning what I call essential life-skills and the duty of parents to expose their children to the real world and humanity’s natural state of innovation.
Started by Gever Tulley, The Tinkering School concept provides an exploratory environment using real tools and real materials to get kids directly into the mix of experimenting and learning how to take an idea and simply make it. But also it stimulates kids to learn how things do work, might work and could work. A rather organic way of learning if you ask me – very, very natural. I love it! (Or is that just the steam punker in me?)
Though I’m new to the knowledge that such a wondrous “school” (official title and expert’s books and all that) exists, I am not new to the philosophy. If anything, it’s a part of the
code of life I carry in my heart. You can see an example of this in my daughter’s creative efforts pictured here. I didn’t design any of her key blade (based off a magical weapon in a popular video game called Kingdom Hearts). She did the whole thing herself. Hers was the spark, hers was the plan. About all I did was take her to the lumber store for the dowel rod and the dry cleaners for the cardboard tubes from hangers. Aside from a little cutting Daddy really had to do, this entire project, even down to asking a thrift store to help her find a piece of wood in their scraps so she could cut stars out of, was all her. On the one hand, I’m adamant about taking care of the things my kids can’t do yet, like driving themselves to the store. One the other hand, I’m adamant that if they have an idea, they should get creative and make a plan themselves too. Even down to “What kind of materials and how will I acquire them?” I love supporting them even though my pocketbook is not very thick, and I know better than most that where there’s a will, there a way. Figuring out how to afford things is a life skill too.
So as you can imagine, finding the following video on Five Dangerous Things (Kids Should Do) just made me feel incredibly happy, validated and empowered in my principles of parenting! #1 on his list just flat out made me giggle. Then again, they all kind of did.
Austin is lucky to have it’s own version of the school called Austin Tinkering School. Though related in concept, the two schools are actually independent from each other. My son had the exciting experience of attending their boat making workshop (big enough for a kid or two to sit in) on his birthday and LOVED it. As my little engineer, it helped make for one of the best memories he’s probably had in getting to just get right into the materials and try to make something without someone trying to lecture him first or slow him down. I haven’t seen the boat yet, since he went with a friend’s family, but when I do, I’ll be sure to post a photo. For now the hard part is finding a date to have the truck to pick up the large boat and find a body of water to haul it too and let us test his thing out!
So all the links are here – go check it out!
If you’re wondering how I found out about the Austin Tinkering School, I had help from some friends of mine from our half-day charter school who keep up with the Austin Area Homeschoolers. If you landed on my page because you’re looking for alternative educational approaches and life enrichment, etc., I do highly recommend AAH as a great local resource, whether you are a traditional homeschooler or not.
So Happy Tinkering Ya’ll!