Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Why I Never Follow the Directions

I know you've been there.

Sitting in the middle of the floor surrounded by furniture pieces, screws, tools, etc.

For many people this is the ultimate frustration.  Trying to follow the often poorly written directions to assemble some bookcase or complicated children's toy.  If you've opened up a box and found something that looks like this, the you know exactly what I mean.
I think that companies are figuring out how much their directions can cause stress for people.  See below.  Is this really telling me that I will need a beverage to complete this assembly of this item?

So, I just don't follow the directions.  I may take a look at the pictures.  I consider the steps and 99% of the time, I do just fine (much to my husband's dismay).  I've put new tile in our bathroom floor, put together new bar stools, and countless numbers of my sons' toys--all without directions. 

When I stop to think about it---I don't really follow the directions for a lot of things.  When I'm travelling I often create my own path.  When I'm cooking, I add my own touch to it.  Why do I need to follow along with what someone else has said?  

It's that rebel in me that embraces innovation in education.  I LOVE the unknown nature Maker Education and the improvisation that often goes into design thinking challenges.  I LOVE chasing the curiosities of students into new uncharted waters.  I LOVE trying new strategies or new tools that might create a new spark for learners.

Consider this: a student opens a robotics kit and follows each step in the sequence resulting in a cool, functioning robot.  That's great.  I am sure that the learner gained new knowledge through the process and enjoyed their new learning.

But what if students figured it out for themselves.  What if they inventoried all the parts, pondered their complexities, and took a shot at it on their own--without the directions. (Gasp!) Imagine the meaningful learning that might come from a project without directions.  This is where the sparks of innovation fly!

In schools, we have a conflict.  We are direction-oriented.  Don't get me wrong, I want my children to do well in school, but does that mean they will always have to follow the directions? I hope not.  I want them to have the chance to tinker and explore without boundaries.  I want them to to try and fail and try again.  Schools founded on compliance do not foster creativity.  

I believe that we are slowly moving away from this model of compliance and towards a more innovative vision for our schools.  But until things truly change in education, I'm going to skip the directions, keep taking risks, and carving out my own creative path.