Innovation

Do It Yourself!

 

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Back in 2012, I wrote a post titled Become An Enabler…Of Creativity!

One of the sites I referenced was the newly launched DIY.org website. I thought it looked great then and it has only gotten better since, with the addition of so many more categories of skills, the option of paid courses with tutors, and (for those who love tangible rewards) the option of purchasing cloth badges when challenges have been met.

Here’s where I think this site is most awesome/useful:

  • the skill list is MASSIVE – I think every kid could find a category that interests them and within that category is a range of activities that will likely be both familiar and new to them, encouraging them to do something they love and something they have not tried before.
  • if you are a homeschooling parent or are lucky enough to go to a progressive school that doesn’t have busywork homework assigned, this is an awesome portal for kids to delve into to put their tinkering skills into action
  • the skills and challenges are multi-faceted: if you choose the Athlete skill, one of the challenges is to prepare an Athletic Diet which involves not only finding a recipe for a meal to suit your athletic endeavors, but preparing it and then writing about or making a video to explain why this meal is good to eat. Reading, research, measurement, nutrition, sports science, video production, explanatory writing – all covered in this task.

Today, a link popped up on my Facebook feed to an article published in May last year: How Minecraft and Duct Tape Wallets Prepare Our Kids for Jobs That Don’t Exist Yet.  Written by Zack Klein, founder of DIY.org, the article is awesome and points to so many ways in which we need to allow our kids the opportunity to create and be creative with the things they are passionate about:

It’s crucial that kids learn how to be passionate for the rest of their lives. To start, they must first learn what it feels like to be simultaneously challenged and confident. It’s my instinct that we should not try to introduce these experiences through skills we value as much as look for opportunities to develop them, as well as creativity and literacy, in the skills they already love.

 

…the childhood passions that seem like fads, if not totally unproductive, can alternatively be seen as mediums for experiencing the virtuous cycle of curiosity: discovering, trying, failing and growing.

 

I don’t think it’s important that kids use the skills they learn on DIY for the rest of their lives. What’s important is that kids develop the muscle to be fearless learners so that they are never stuck with the skills they have. Only this will prepare them for a world where change is accelerating and depending on a single skill to provide a lifetime career is becoming impossible.

 

The DIY community is awesome. The forums are positive and encouraging and they have loads of steps in place to keep it open but also safe for kids. Even if your kids are young, the site has great ideas for activities you could do as a family.  Here are some of the skills that were intriguing to me:

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I think what I like most about this site is that it is such a great model for a personalized approach to education in which kids can be given agency over their learning. It’s not about what “we” want them to learn or want them to be interested in. It’s about letting them know that the things they love to tinker with are important and relevant. I didn’t know until I read this that the brains behind the site, founder Zack Klein, was also the brains behind the video hosting platform, Vimeo – something that started as a tinkering passion as a young kid.

With the rapidly-changing job market and the mind-blowing idea that many (or most!) of the jobs our kids will move into are not yet even created, giving young people the forum and the freedom to tinker and explore and try and experiment are vitally important.

How could you use the DIY.org approach in your classroom?

 

 

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