Dink On!

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Photo cc by Suzette – http://www.suzette.nu

What is dinking? Most people see it as just screwing around or doing what you’re not supposed to. Well, maybe dinking doesn’t have to be so negative. Maybe dinking means playing around with something until you figure out how it works or how it can be improved. Maybe, just maybe, the school system needs to be dinked with.

I really agree with Bud Hunt and Logan LaPlante’s points of view on schooling. I am an art education major, so allowing for creativity in education is especially important to me. I am also a hands-on learner and I understand the importance of play and experimentation in the learning process.

A major point that was brought up in the Ted Talk was schools educating students to make a living instead of making a life. I do not think schools even go that far anymore. Schools are so concerned about test scores that students are not prepared to go on to college, join the workforce, or even function as adults after high school. Yes, students might be able to retain information for a while, but only just long enough to take a test and finish the class. This is because all it is is regurgitation. Students memorize information for a test and never put the information into practice. This is where experimentation and play comes into practice. If students are allowed to do more with what they are taught than do a worksheet and complete a test, grades and information retention would skyrocket.

A term that was brought up in both the blog and the Ted Talk that I found interesting was hacking. I never thought of hacking as something that could be applied towards school, but it makes sense. As Bud put it, hackers improve things. They tweaked things to work better than they did before. Isn’t this what we should be doing in schools? While we can’t expect schools to completely overhaul how their teaching methods overnight, these small “hacks” can be made to improve the overall quality of the education system. For example: instead of giving a physics class an equation to apply to twenty questions on a worksheet, why not have them build an experiment and apply the equation there? When I took physics in high school that is exactly what we did. My teacher understood the importance of incorporating experimentation and play in the classroom. There wasn’t ever any need to memorize equations because we really, truly learned them.

For a good portion of my time in school I was in the gifted program. I was in it for a year before I transferred schools after fourth grade and then I was placed in the gifted program at my new school. This program was called the High Ability Learners program, or HAL’s for short. HAL’s was the best program I could have ever been in because that teacher just got it. She was a little bit older of a lady and not the most techy, but she knew to just sit back and let us play with things. We took time out of the classroom to play challenging games, design machinery to perform certain tasks, do group projects, you name it. She understood the value of letting students dink with things. Dinking has kind of a negative connotation, but sometimes dinking leads to revelations. To me, dinking and creativity go hand in hand. Dink on!

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8 thoughts on “Dink On!

  1. Emily, I really appreciated your ideas after having watched the video and read the blogs. I felt much the same as you did about the hacking situation and having your students participate in more hands on activities. I thought it was a wonderful post and I agree with all of it. Great insight!

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  2. I think this is a good way to put the ideas of free play and hacking into the classroom. Dinking should be looked at as experimenting and wondering. I think by incorporating this into the classroom it will help with creativity!

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    1. I will admit, I’m definitely guilty of telling people to quit dinking with things (mostly when things are in danger of getting broken!) but I also think it is a great thing to encourage in classrooms and at home with children.

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  3. I love this idea of dinking! Definitely fits with playing and hacking. I don’t think schools provide nearly enough opportunity for students to explore, putter, play, make, fail, try again, etc. That’s truly how we learn all of the most valuable things we learn in life–puttering around, trying it out, doing it over.

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    1. That’s what I loved about the High Ability Learners program we used to have in my school district. The teacher would give us puzzles and mentally challenging games and she would force us to mess with something to figure it out. I definitely learned more by doing that than if she had just told me what to do.

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