I met a truly interesting cat this summer who turned me on to one of his projects, MAKE Magazine, and now I am feeling very excited about learning to hack things and share the learning with my students. If you’re interested in expanding what you teach your little weasels this year into tech stuff, do check it out.
I’m reading the MAKE Kids’ section this morning, trying to find the best entry point for my nephew Bren (who at 11 started substantial projects like helping renovate his Grandma’s bathroom), who I imagine is quite primed for building robots and playing with electronics – and I came across this fantastic and inspiring article about basic tech skills that all kids should learn before finishing school. Some of them have a whiff of survivalism – how to purify water, how to build a lean-to – but that whiff is only rank because of the armageddon-freaks who usually focus on them. (I suppose if society does collapse, it’d be best to not have to rely on the woods-militia for the basics, actually.) Of the 16 recommended things, I have only a passing acquaintance with maybe 8, and don’t think I could teach more than a couple of them to kids. How fun is that? One of the best things about teaching is the opportunity to learn new things – and pretty much everything at MAKE is intriguing and useful.
The other brilliant thing about this is that anytime you veer from the curriculum, you get to simultaneously veer away from the control mechanisms that kill school, subjects and minds – ie. standardized testing, reporting, etc. So get through the boring shit quickly (you’ll have to ditch that crappy textbook and really teach the stuff – the important, non-trivial stuff) and get your class into the interesting stuff. (I get the impression that this is more difficult in the States, but I know from experience that it can be done in Ontario, if you’re willing to write your own courses.) Like talking about ethics, or discussing the _current_ wars, or making little dancing robots, or learning how to tie a knot.
Check this out for another reason to share this with your kids.