When in Doubt, Decorate

The other day I was watching this TED talk by Gever Tulley about his “Tinkering School” where he unleashes eight year olds on power tools and lumber and coaches them through the design and creation of wonderful things. Nice to watch in itself, but one of his side comments had me pondering. He has noticed that when the kids get stuck and frustrated with a problem that they can’t solve in constructing their thing, the marker pens and paint comes out, and they start decorating it instead. After a while, they are able to go back to it and tackle their problem afresh.

I’m sure there’s something in that – the idea of stepping aside from a problem and doing something else for a while is not a new one. But this practice of a much looser, undirected, reflective commitment to the same work sounds interesting, and almost sounds like a naturalistic strategy we iron out of ourselves as adults. Except for web designers. Now… where are my markers?

1 Comment so far

Bill Proudfit

I would say that we (adults) do this when we stop creating and focus on the format and layout of a document, project plan, spreadsheet etc. for a while and then go back to adding/editing the content of whatever it is.

Posted on August 04, 2009 at 08:17 AM | Comment permalink

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