Last week I shared some of my experiences participating in the Art of Tinkering Workshop. This week I’m still reflecting on my experience, focusing on the amazing participants of the workshop. As always, feel free to reach out if you have any questions or comments - firstname.lastname@example.org.
In my last post, I mentioned that we engaged in six tinkering activities over the three-day workshop and we always worked in pairs or trios. We were often encouraged to work with a different person each time and I loved getting to know people through sharing in a tinkering experience.
For every activity we had time constraints so working with a partner was great because many hands make light work…kind of. I definitely think that the collaboration led to the creation of more interesting, complex, and developed ideas however that was never the focus of the workshop. Rather I felt the benefit of the time constraints on the partnerships was that we became fast friends because we had to get stuff done quickly. Having a shared goal broke through a lot of barriers instantly. It opened up the door for communication and I found myself taking on many different roles during the multiple partnerships. In some cases I was an enthusiastic executor of my partner’s idea. In others, a fellow explorer as we both tried to understand how something worked. And occasionally I found myself supporting the activity through providing direction. Whatever the role was, it didn’t really matter.
What I take away from the experience of working with many partners was that I was able to take on many different roles. And my partners did the same for me. When I had an idea that excited me, they were there to support it. When I was confused or suffering from a case of analysis paralysis, my partner was there to help us move along. The ability to take on a variety of roles across a range of activities with multiple different partners was an important part of the workshop experience. As I reflect on my experience and think about what I want to bring into future learning experiences, ownership and experience in various roles is one thing that I want to build. Taking on different roles allowed me to experience different ways of doing and working with partners meant that I made a lot of new friends.
In addition to working with multiple partners, we also got to spend time in ‘affinity groups’. These affinity groups were consistent across the workshop and I really enjoyed spending time with the same five people every day. In these groups we were able to dig deeper into ideas around tinkering pedagogy and perspectives on education. Because we spent time together each day, we also formed strong connections. I’m excited to stay in touch and continue to collaborate with them.
Ultimately, what I’ve shared here is just a brief overview of the power of peers. And for many of you reading this, I don’t think I need to defend why working with others is valuable. For me, meeting new people, collaborating with others, and forming friendships is what makes a good educational experience great.