Tinkering School

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Session C: Day 1 - Collective Agreements

2016 Session C - SeniorsCaroline Martin2 Comments

Welcome to Tinkering School!  It's our first "Seniors" week of the summer, and it's exciting to have the new group arrive. Day 1 is about discovery - we meet each other, we're introduced to our home for the next week.

At Tinkering School, and doubly so with our oldest group, we want to give ownership to the students. So Day 1 is not only learning about our space, but each tinkerer contributing to create our collective experiences. 

Gever welcomes Gigi, and helps her get signed in at the conference center. 

Pens scratch on paper. Permission slips are signed.  

Daniel, our visiting Collaborator, helps Sophia and Lil J. get a lay of the land. He doesn't always wear this face, really. A tour up to the goat pen follows, but they forgot the camera, so sadly there aren't pictures to match. 

Then it's time for our first circle. The kids have had a chance to explore there new surroundings, now we gather all together for the first time, and take a moment to get a feel for the group as a whole. We start with easy questions: "Who has a dog? Raise your hand!" Once we cover pets, it's on to the important stuff: "Who's used a serious power tool?" - turns out, it's almost everyone. 

It gives us a chance to learn a thing or two about one another. Lee learns something new about Dylan. 

Gever takes the opportunity to cover the two most important rules of Tinkering School:            #1 - Don't Hurt Yourself Or Anybody Else                                                                                      #2 - If you see a piece of fruit and you want it, then you  have to eat it. 

These govern all our interactions at camp, so we take a moment to discuss and reflect on them. 

We go around the circle, sharing our "Spirit Tool" - whatever tool we feel we most deeply connect with. Our answers range from velcro to jack-knife to hammer. 

Dylan's decided his name tag is more functional on his head. Maybe it's a new type of hat. 

Then comes the opportunity for campers to shape their experience - we have too important decisions to make - when dinner will be, and when breakfast will be. Seniors get a lot more autonomy in these choices than our younger groups, for whom it's mostly predetermined.  

We try an experiment in collective decision making. Step one - position ourselves on the line. When the option we want is called, step forward. Step by step, we reach a compromise - 7:00 pm for dinner, 8:00 am for breakfast. 

And then the highlight of the evening, and our first chance to get hands-on: Tool Training! Caroline teaches a group how to use the drills properly. Quite a few of the tinkerers in this crew have been to camp before, but even for them, tool training is an important time to brush up, refresh, and learn something in a new way or with a new detail or two. 

Over at clamp training, Junior Collaborator Jack challenges his group to build the tallest structure they can using clamps and scrap wood. Using the Sky Bench built in previous weeks for it's ladder and as a starting point, they get pretty high.  David and Gigi work to get the piece in place, while Alex directs and Claire looks on.

And Collaborator Serena explains how to use the chop saw, before letting her group have a go. 

As each group rotates through each tool, one thing becomes clear - the clam tower just keeps on growing. Zack places the final piece, making it to 14' 8" from the ground.  

Then we head back to the Conference Center for a special showing: Tom Sachs' "Ten Bullets" - a video explaining the guidelines and culture and code by which he runs his meticulously kept studio. We pause between bullets to discuss them and how we interpret them here. For the last couple of weeks, the staff has worked with this code in mind. This week, because we have seniors, we wanted to share it with the whole group. 

Some of the bullets are puzzling. 

Portrait of an Assistant Collaborator: Jack catches Serena taking photos. 

We head down for some free build time, then back up for dinner. After dinner, it's time for another Tinkering School tradition, and another set of rules - this time, the rules of pocket knife use. Each Tinkerer will receive their own knife, once they prove they recite the rules and w demonstrates it on a stick. 

Our night-time knife circle produces some interesting shots in the camera. 

And the evening closes with us hanging out, talking, and playing Spoons and Connect Four in the Conference Center. 

All and all, a good first day. We've all worked out an understanding, and we're eager to get started. 

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