Essential question: What is the link between “tinkering”, “hard play”, and the “growth mindset”?
Tinkering, as defined in the book Invent to Learn, “is a uniquely human activity, combining social and creative forces that encompass play and learning (Martinez, et.al, loc., 923). Tinkering is essentially messing around with materials. Materials can be computers, iPads, rulers, paper, sand, etc. Tinkering with these materials is where the learning happens (Martinez, et.al, loc., 883). Tinkering with materials in the classroom allows students to use their brains and anything they can put their hands on to solve a problem (Martinez, et.al, loc., 896). When we give our students opportunities to experiment, take risks, and play with their own ideas, they begin to see themselves as learners who have good ideas that can transform them into new experiences (Martinez, et.al, loc., 935).
There are two mindsets: the growth mindset, and the fixed mindset. The growth mindset can be described as allowing students to tinker with the things around them. “Adopting a tinkering mindset allows all students to learn in their own style,” (Martinez, et.al, loc., 961). We give students opportunities to play with things they are unfamiliar with, where there are no instructions, or right or wrong way. “Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning,” (Martinez, et.al, loc., 975). It is a major source of development. A fixed mindset is learning thru textbook, following the rules, and believing everything you read.
According to the article “Why the Growth Mindset,” when students and educators have this type of mindset, they understand that intelligence can be developed; they are enthusiastic about learning, hard working and they take charge of their own success. When we give our students opportunities to tinker and play with materials, they develop that growth mindset. They learn how to take charge of their learning and find solutions to things they envision. “Tinkering is the way that real science happens in all its messy glory,” (Martinez, et.al, loc., 1053).
Martinez, S. L., & Stager, G. (n.d.). Invent to learn: Making, tinkering, and engineering in the classroom. Retrieved May 24, 2016.
The Science. (2008). Retrieved May 24, 2016, from https://www.mindsetworks.com/webnav/whatismindset.aspx