..at the very beginning. A very good place to start.
The first day of our after school workshop is dedicated to helping kids discover what they need to build something great and most importantly to have a lot of FUN while doing it!
After some brief introductions we begin by circling up in our art studio for a more abstract kind of creating. Prompting the group with, "Let's think of some guidelines to follow that will help us respect our workshop and each other while working together for the next 8 weeks."
As a collaborator you know you're in for a great working session when their suggestions bring about involved discussions on both physical and emotional safety.
After agreements, it's time for for tool training.
We begin with one of most most dangerous tools we use at Tinkering School, the chop saw. Generally, kids get really excited about this training. Probably because few have ever been given the opportunity to be within an arm's length of such a powerful tool, let alone the chance to operate one.
But not everyone was feeling quite so fearless this week. On our walk from the art studio to meet Lindsay for training, Ida, pulled on my sleeve and in a hardly audible 6-year voice said that she didn't want to make a cut. I reminded her of our Platinum-Rule agreement and how at Tinkering School she didn't have to do anything she didn't want to do; however, I did encouraged her to at least come into the room for Lindsay's demonstration. Prepared with her safety gear I watched from behind as Ida slowly made her way from the hiding behind to the front of the group. When the training and demonstration was complete Lindsay asked who wanted to try and cut their piece of wood, Ida's hand shot straight into the air accompanied by a confident, "I do!"
It's these sorts of moments that remind us as collaborators the importance of these workshops and the opportunity's they create for the kids. Although our training ran over (we'll cover drills next session) I felt as if it we accomplished something even greater then teaching a group of secen 5-9 year olds how to safely operate a handful of tools. We created a space for someone to overcome an obstacle- all they required was the opportunity.