Friday, November 22, 2013

Break down, play and explore...

I spent the day yesterday talking with the film crew from Historic Arkansas Museum, Gabe, Jennifer and Jennifer, about the hands, and how they make us smart, and in a 15 minute presentation, edited down from hours of camera time, the message comes down to a few words. Use the hands, or lose the contribution they would have made to your full human capacity and intellect. As I explained, the concept "wisdom of the Hands" may seem pretentious, but I'm not talking about my wisdom, but rather your own.

For me, so much falls back on my friend having told me that my brains are in my hands and that is the same message I share with others. Our hands are our most precious resources and we neglect their use at the peril of our civilization. This a damned simple message, and yet, how many times these days are interesting and wonderful things simply thrown away, when they might instead become objects of hands-on educational contemplation?

If you can't be convinced to give your child saws and hammers, at the very least you might consider pliers and a set of screwdrivers. No piece of junk should ever go to landfills without being first explored fully and taken apart by the hands of kids. The asininity of the American public is that we allow our children to become consumers rather than be makers, fixers and creatively engaged.

Yesterday in the filming we started on the right track. Gabe had a slider that was supposed to allow the camera to track from left to right and back, changing its view in smooth transition. The arm that locked the camera in position was failing to lock, leaving the whole thing limp. The locking mechanism would make a clicking noise but fail to lock down. Without that arm being locked firmly in position, the slider could not be used. I suggested we take the thing apart to see why it didn't work. We did. It was a complex operation and all hands were involved, each holding something. And as a team, we managed to put it back together. In the process of learning how it was supposed to work, we were able to adjust it to work just as intended. The slider was used throughout the day's filming to help control one of the two cameras, but the greater thing was that we shared a moment early in the process in which we each found greater connection with the confidence that comes from fixing a thing that had not worked.

There are neurohormones at work when we achieve something that surprises us by shifting our perspective from consumer to maker. Just as the simple slider can carry the camera left to right, from one perspective to another, the act of making something or fixing something leaves the world transformed, in that we are ourselves transformed. While the slider we fixed goes back and forth, makers and fixers move only forward.

Make fix and create...

1 comment:

  1. Well done! I'm currently grumbling about products that use a power supply that involves a transformer. Those power supplies are so badly made that they don't last long, and most people wouldn't think of going to a store and getting a new power supply so they toss out a perfectly good product.