Tinkering Builds Resilience in Our Students

Jul 09, 2017
Tinkering Builds Resilience in Our Students

Let me tell you a story about two little boys.

At the time they were five and six years old, and they loved to take apart their toys. As a self-taught mechanic himself, their father understood the importance of nurturing this hands-on approach to self-learning and encouraged them to explore how things work. One day, while playing on the family computer, the mouse fell and broke; the little pieces that belonged inside the plastic casing were scattered on the floor. What do you think the little boys did? They took it to their father who, after looking all the pieces over to make sure they were all there, gave them back and said, “make it work again”. And they did! It took hours for these little ones as they worked the tiny screwdriver and carefully placed the pieces in various ways, attempting to breathe life back into the tiny appliance, but in the end, they were rewarded. And for their reward, not only did they now know how to fix the computer mouse (which is good because it happened quite often), they learned that they can make things work again – as long as they keep trying.

What is Tinkering?

Webster defines tinkering as, to work in the manner of a tinker; especially:  to repair, adjust, or work with something in an unskilled or experimental manner”. Giving our students a space available with small tools and fun things they can take apart and put back together helps them learn, imagine, create, discover, and more! You can find a list of the benefits of tinkering here but the one I want to focus on is resiliency; because allowing our students to tinker, make and create is a stepping stone to STEM (science, technology, engineering & mathematics) fields. And the even bigger lesson is to learn that failing is part of learning.

“This is the heart of not just making and tinkering, but so much of life: Every maker, every engineer, every scientist tries and fails . . . and tries again. It is the only path to real success. If children are not allowed to learn how to fail, what will they do when they encounter the inevitable obstacles in their lives? With no history of failing, they are more likely to give up than to continue on. But a child who learns how to learn from failed attempts is a child who grows up to be a resilient adult. And there are few better opportunities to learn resiliency than tinkering”. – Boston Children’s Museum

I encourage you to incorporate a “MakerSpace” area in your classroom! Give them the tools needed to discover the wonder of creating and building something unique and the self-satisfaction that’s sure to follow.

Strengthening a child’s character and building resiliency, this is one way we can be kind to children.

As for the little boys in the story, they may end up becoming engineers or inventors but whatever they do end up doing, they’re already learning the importance of being resilient.

Looking for ideas for your tinker table? Download this fun list of items to have on hand for your MakerSpace! 

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