Tinkering School

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Castles: Mindful Tool Use

Sean Murray

Yesterday, when our kids were proposing rules for our Group Agreement, a camper came up with a rule I've never heard before: Use tools mindfully.

Tool use--the deployment of a designed, fabricated instrument to create a desired outcome--is amazing. Every time we use any tool, from the glorious bandsaw to the mundane scissors, it is an opportunity to focus...

to observe the interaction of tool, material and user...

to very literally change a piece of the world.

It might be a tiny piece, but it is right in front of us.

Tool use is an incredible thing to behold and to perform. That we should use tools mindfully is a rule that all the campers and collaborators, at their best, feel in their bones.

This week we are building a castle. It will be made of 2x3s, and covered in cardboard. We'll paint the cardboard to look like stone.

We'll make make crowns and thrones and trapdoors and secret passageways--mostly out of wood and screws, using a few simple tools--mostly drills, clamps and a chopsaw.

We'll try new things, and laugh when they don't go perfectly.

We'll try to use all our tools--including words and actions--mindfully.

In this picture, one six-year-old helps another six-year-old use a power drill. They met this week. They are building a a train shaped like a dragon together. They are friends, for they are building together. We are so proud of these kids!

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