Things are little slow right now on the tinkering front. So during this period of downtime I'm going to spend the next few posts exploring the "whys" and the "what fors" of tinkering around.
When I was in high school I hated studying history. It seemed like nothing but a bunch of dates and places involving people and events I just didn't understand. Even though I knew the concept of "those who don't understand history are doomed to repeat it," it still seemed irrelevant. I suffered through it each day and dreaded every homework assignment.
It didn't get much better in college. In fact, it only got worse when I had a teacher that gave the most boring lectures, only to be out-bored by the boringest text to ever bore (authored by this very same teacher of course). The only class in which I ever received an F. It was a much deserved F too. You should have read my 300 word essay on the final exam. We were supposed to have written it on how ancient Egypt has influenced other cultures, but instead I wrote an eloquent diatribe on how awful the class, text, teacher, and test was. Oh, it was a thing of beauty.
Of course I couldn't graduate with that F on my record so I was forced to retake. This time I took it during an "off" semester where the class size was sure to be smaller and I could hope to get more out of it. I was very fortunate the second time to get a teacher who made the subject of history very interesting to me. Instead of treating history like a bunch of dates and moving through the time line like a snail in molasses, he would address a single subject in each lecture and cover the entire time line of that subject in a "big picture" fashion. Women in history, technology in history, etc. This really worked for me and opened up an all new appreciation for the subject. I actually enjoyed the class and the homework and earned a B. The highest history grade I ever earned.
And now I find myself interested in the past and those who have gone before me. I like to learn about how things used to be and how far things have come. I've even found it fun to try to do some things the "old fashioned way." Making home made bread, pickles, outdoor cooking, etc. I know others who sew, quilt, bake, and garden just like in "olden" days. I often feel like tinkering helps me to make a connection to the past. As if showing an interest in the things my ancestors were interested in could help me to feel like they were real instead of just a picture in an album. Or sometimes while I'm tinkering around with technology unavailable to them at the time I wonder if they would have been interested in it too and how well they would have enjoyed tinkering with it.
I usually try to prioritize the projects that are appropriate and fun for the kids to help me with. This gives me an opportunity to spend time with them instead of just holing away and missing out on their lives. It also allows for me to share some of my interests with them and hopefully get them interested too. I can also learn more about the things they are interested in and try to incorporate their interests in the project with an effort to help bring out their talents. In this way I can also make connections with them.
Perhaps Malachi was speaking of tinkering and the DIY movement when he said, "And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. " (Malachi 4:6)
Tinkering is a great opportunity to turn the heart of the fathers to the children and the heart of the children to the fathers as we share in one another's hobbies and pass on those interests from generation to generation. And a non-industrious society, only consuming and not producing would indeed be a curse on the earth.
Part 1 - Fun!
Part 2 - Economics
Part 3 - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Part 4 - Education