"We're called Collaborators for a lot of reasons," was the message of today's opening circle. The adults at Tinkering School are not teachers, or instructors, or counselors, or even really mentors.
Our job title is Collaborator.
Our job is to collaborate.
So what does that mean, really?
Aren't we ALL collaborating on these projects in order to build something bigger than ourselves?
Isn't that like, the first goal of Tinkering School? To Collaborate and Make Friends?
Well, yes. We are all collaborating. The kids. The adults. We are all working on the common goal of problem solving and designing and collectively constructing some awesome things. We are doing this as a team. The adults don't have all the answers. And we certainly aren't the ones leading the design and construction of the project. When we're doing our jobs really well, the kids do that all themselves.
So, a couple of interesting things always emerge in this experiment with kids in tool competency and collective team-building:
- The Tinkerers often struggle with not looking to the adults for all the answers. We have to constantly curb this gravitation and push back on them by asking questions and also not providing answers. That's most of our work day: empowering the kids and redirecting the tendency for them to wait until we tell 'em what to do.
- The Tinkerers often ask permission instead of providing informational statements. "Can I go get more screws?" "Can I go to the bathroom?" "Would it be okay if I cut a 48" piece of wood to complete the design?" Yes. Yes. Yes. Of course the answer is yes. Instead, just tell the adults what's up. I'm going to the bathroom. I'm getting more screws. I need an adult in the chop saw room with me so I can cut a 48" piece of wood.
And while it pains me to say this, we often see these behavior patterns most prevalent during our sessions with all girls.
Today we decided to change that.
In opening circle, we gave everyone two pieces of information:
The adults are Collaborators (we don't have the answers).
And, don't ask permission (just tell us What's Up.)
And I'd say our experiment of the day was pretty successful. With this direct instruction, the Tinkerers have left for the day and I am exhausted. I spent the whole day being told what to do by the kids. Go to the chop saw room. Help me on the bandsaw. Help me set up this cut with the circular saw. Go with me to find more plywood. Help me install these hinges.
Thanks, girls. I'm gonna sleep well tonight!