Tinkering School

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The Collaborator Must Be Stoked

Collaborator's ExperienceSean Murray

Engaged, enthusiastic collaborators (a.k.a. "adults") are the foundation of a great Tinkering School experience.

Every kid, to some degree, mirrors the collaborators. Kids get stoked on a project when they see collaborators stoked on a project. Kids enjoy tough, open-ended problems when they see collaborators enjoy tough, open-ended problems. Kids treat people with consideration and warmth when they see collaborators treat people with consideration and warmth. 

If the collaborators are stoked, the kids will be stoked.

Lincoln pulls himself up to the rafters on an elevator and pulley system built during day camp. Lindsay holds the safety line. Lincoln's enthusiasm and happiness are largely attributable to Lindsay's enthusiasm and happiness. If you're stoked, the kids will be stoked.

Be warned: kids will mirror collaborators' less-distinguished attitudes and actions, as well. So, how to maintain collaborator stoke?

  • Pick Projects Selfishly--Collaborators should pick projects/challenges that they think are truly, deeply awesome. So awesome they'd consider doing them even without kids!
  • Mix It Up--Avoid repeating projects. Throw in a novel material, tool, or constraint.  A bit of variety is fun, and might lead to insights.
  • Take Breaks--Building stuff is hard. Kids are hard. Building stuff with kids is hard. Respect the difficulty. Take, at least, a 10-minute break every session.
  • Be Honest--If, for some reason, you find yourself feeling less-than-stoked, don't try and fake it. Show the kids professionalism and commitment to the task. De-brief with your colleagues after. Try and pinpoint where enthusiasm flew away, and how to get it back.

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