Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Craftsman Mindset of an 8 and 6 year old

Cal Newport would be proud.

While Kenzie and Cash didn't put in 10,000 hours  (a key concept of the Craftsman Mindset), they did put in some deep work and deliberate practice.

I noticed about two weeks ago that Kenzie and Cash were swept up in the fidget spinner craze.

After buying them a few and watching in fascination at the barter system at Challenger Elementary School as Kenzie and Cash traded with their peers, I told the kids that they should build their own fidget spinners . . . out of Legos! (Now that is something that Cash has several thousand hours in already).

So here is how they practiced deep work.

First, they did research, which for this young generation included watching Youtube videos like the one below. (Now, before all you old fogies scoff at how the young generation rushes to Youtube as a learning tool, recall what we rushed to as a learning tool: Books.  And I recall my dad trying to teach me something, and him scoffing at me when I wanted to read about it and do some research on it before we began.  Why go to books when you can just figure it out via trial and error.  So we aren't that different really.  Are we?)

Second, Kenzie went about scouring Cash's massive collection of Legos for just the right parts.

Third, using trial and error and diligently following the article and Youtube tutorials, she comprised her own Lego fidget spinner!

Fourth, she took pride in her work and the outcome.

Of course, Cash, who was a bit tired after taking a ball to the face in Latchkey dodgeball, was a bit cranky and unwilling to put in the time and effort Kenzie did.  Thus, he felt left out.  However, he was able to recover later and put his own spin on building a Lego fidget spinner.

Then they found this video.

Time that with a trip to Minneapolis this weekend, where they will buy specific parts for more Lego fidget spinners, and they are doing exactly what Austin Kleon advises in Steal Like an Artist - stealing and remixing ideas to create something new.

And then we got this feedback from a fourth grade teacher who was able to use it in her class as part of her class, which is great.  Teach them how to use it early on so when they get to 9th grade they know when to put them away and when to focus.  The same is true for the technology the kids use.  Recently, I took to having a box at the front of my room where students can place their cell phones so they aren't constantly distracted and where they can do deep work.  Perhaps if there was more discipline earlier on how to use technology and when to put it away (and this certainly doesn't fall on teachers to teach this), students wouldn't have to put it in a box at the front of the room.  They would just know to keep it in their lockers or pockets . . . just like most of them will have do in the real world.

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