The Evils of Kits and Step-by-step Instructions?
I like things to be ideal. In fact, my most dreaded fear in the universe is a set missing one item.
Ok, I admit it.
I’m a little OCD.
But some things in life suffer from too much attention. Take for instance, Elmyra Duff, from the old Warner Bros. cartoons who loves her animals to the point of escaping in terror.
Her yard is littered with abandoned dog houses, bird cages, and food bowls of animals who escaped because–with the best of intentions–she drove them absolutely crazy.
Every now and then I myself get struck by a fit and grab my cat Roger, pick him up, hug him a little too close, and croon, “I’ll love you and hug you and call you George!” I then fall over in fits of laughter while he escapes to the back of the couch to scorn my foolishness with such contempt as only a cat can conjure.
How is this related to Kits and Step-by-step instructions?
In our eager desire to prepare our kids for a successful future, we usually run down to the local mart and buy a LEGO® kit with step-by-step instructions. Then we give this “box of creativity” to our kids and sagely pronounce, “I grew up with LEGOs®. They will help you be creative.”
But today’s kits with step-by-step instructions for building the latest Starship Tardis Galactica is exactly the opposite of inspiring creativity. When we were kids, LEGOs® were all some variation of a rectangle, and to make anything “cool” required us to experiment with the shapes until some reasonable approximation of a truck, plane, or house emerged–with NO instructions.
What is the difference?
In the case of step-by-step instructions, little creative thinking is required, and creativity is actually somewhat discouraged, because if the Indiana Clones kit gets mixed with the Desert Hover Board kit noone will ever be able to reconstruct the original from either set.
So our kids today aren’t ever bored…
But they aren’t ever really excited either…
Let them be bored.
Yeah, you read correctly. Letting kids be bored drives them to find creative solutions for becoming “un-bored”. If you don’t believe me, listen to this week’s podcast with engineer turned PhD psychologist, Joanie Connell. Together we barbeque just about every sacred cow in the helicoptering parenting pasture.
It’s funny. It’s sad. It’s real…
And a little too close to home…
But totally worth it: http://InventingPodcast.com
PS – I still like LEGO kits, though, because they have all sorts of cool parts–even if they do get hopelessly mixed up with other kits in one grand mele of LEGO® goodness.