Tinkering Is Good For Girls Because It’s Good For Everyone
Sylvia Martinez created this wonderful slideshow as part of her participation in a panel at the Summit on Women and IT. The panel is titled “Tinkering: How Might ‘Making Stuff’ Influence Girls’ Interest in STEM and Computing?” and the Summit is happening this week in NYC. She writes (emphasis mine):
School only honors one type of design and problem-solving methodology, the traditional analytical step-by-step model. It ignores other problem-solving styles that are more non-linear, more collaborative, more artistic, etc. These styles are seen as “messy” or “soft” with the implication that they are not reliable. However, who do we lose when we ignore, or worse, denigrate alternative styles of problem-solving. I think one answer may be “girls” but honestly, it’s broader than that. We lose all kinds of people who are creative, out-of-the-box thinkers. And these are exactly the people I want solving the problems we face in the 21st century.
Teaching a tinkering model of problem-solving is good for girls because it’s good for everyone.
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I like this alot. And one of the reasons I attended Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in the late 80s was their focus on projects that were required for graduation.
But ABET, the college accredidation board couldn’t wrap their brains around it and slowly strangled it to death by saying “Hey, you can keep your projects, but you still have to do all the standardized course work that is equivilent to your projects or we won’t accredidate you any more.” Which if you lose that, it’s the death knell for financial aid, etc.
Still, it’s a great school and I wish more schools would base their teaching on students doing self-directed projects. How many times at your job does your boss say “here’s something I need you to do, circle one of the four provided answers and turn it in tomorrow.” None.
All jobs are project based (at least good ones in my mind!) and require you to know how to examine and solve a problem and work towards a goal not knowing all the steps you’ll have to take.
So adding/increasing problem solving in classrooms is a good thing no matter what.