Putting Away the Books to Learn
Jackie Ashton

I haven’t read the previous articles but I notice that the words “problem solving” never appeared here. For me, problem solving is the most important thing, though I admit that there are social aspects of what they are doing here that I SHOULD value more. But if you did emphasize problem solving you could integrate coding into the program much easier. Though coding without a basic understanding of Boolean algebra is probably a mistake.

Thinking back on my own shop education in the mid-’60s, I wish I had learned how to use more woodworking tools (like routers, and today CNC machines) and had learned more of the “engineering” that I now do in my head so that what I build is actually solid. I wish I had learned welding. I wish I had more excuses to be around printing inks — we hand set type and printed all the programs and “things” for the school. I wish we had learned basic electrical wiring and even plumbing. What better way to learn academic lessons relating to electricity and — well, plumbing seems to be magic and evil spirits so that might not work — than by actually making/repairing things?

The tricky bit is how much do you want students (at any age) to struggle on their own and learn by making mistakes and how much would they benefit from an apprentice relationship with someone who is already accomplished? Personally, I would want the freedom to try the former but also the option of consulting the latter.

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