Sunday, June 01, 2008

A friend of mine, shopping for a new home, found that it was difficult to find homes on the market that hadn't suffered from previous owners weekend expeditions to the big box DIY building stores. They go, they buy, they return home and bugger things up through incompetence, lack of hand skill, lack of artistic insight, and lack of taste. I had wondered whether there was an economic cost to what can be called "demolition by DIY". Do-it-yourself ambition is admirable, and I am an advocate, but when tools are put in the hands of the inexperienced, there is a learning curve in their safe use and there are real dollar costs involved as homeowners practice their skills on valuable real estate. Even a thing as simple as a tube of bathtub caulk in the hands of the inexperienced can present serious peril to property values.

The London Telegraph had an interesting article about the risks: Save money on DIY: don't bodge it - dodge it It is a fun article, somewhat frightening, and should help some to understand that if we want our children to actually take pleasure in making things, fixing things, being competent in the physical world, we should start them while their fingers are nimble and their brains handwired.

There is direct linkage between what we do with our hands and our understanding of the physical world. After all, Frank Lloyd Wright learned about architecture playing with blocks in a Froebel inspired kindergarten. Buckminster Fuller first discovered the principles of the geodesic dome when he played with sticks and peas, Froebel's Nineteenth Gift.

We are setting records in nail gun injuries, as home hobbyists trek home with newly purchased DIY tools that they are unprepared to understand. We are also noticing in the media, more tragic circumstances than fingers accidentally nailed to boards. Last week, another construction crane collapsed in NYC, the second in months. There were fatalities in both incidents. I have this strong suspicion that as children no longer play with blocks, stacking them under the influence of real gravity, they lose some of the essential sensitivity that would have prepared their safe and secure entry into adult creativity and responsibility.

If we want our children to become DIY savvy and capable adults, we had best start them out playing with blocks, then saws and hammers. The computer and television can come later.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous4:28 PM

    I think you are on to something. Interesting thoughts.