Thursday, January 24, 2008


Really, really great talk in one of the latest TED videos by Gerver Tully, where he discusses something that most people would interpret as horrifying:

Letting your child do dangerous things.

Things like playing with fire. Playing with knives. Throwing spears. Taking apart things that expressly say "do not take apart". Even breaking the law!

The thing is, he gives damned good reasons for doing so: that kids often learn better from exposure to this sort of thing, and that we often ridiculously over exaggerate the danger kids face from their environments.

Anyway, here's the talk:

One thing that he said that I completely agree with? Opening up those "black boxes" that surround us. Especially computers. Way too many people are way too intimidated by the things, and even I'm guilty of that at times, but once you crack it open and (with a little help) realize that this does that and this other thing its connected to does that other thing, it ceases being a mystery and becomes, well, just a tool. More complex than your tableware, but still just a tool.

The point he makes about "knowability"--the knowledge that you can personally understand something--is an excellent one, and the best way to gain knowability is to, well, look at all the gimcracks in the things you use every day by taking them apart and trying to figure out how they work. That's what they do at his "tinkerer's school", and it sounds really, really interesting.

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