I keep saying that you can’t think with tools you don’t have. I mean this metaphorically, in part: if no one has taught you how to break your writing into paragraphs, you don’t. That’s a tool. Another kind of tool is more literal: a pair of tin snips. Until you’ve had the pleasure of cutting metal, it’s hard to believe how easy it is, or how hard it is to do well.
It’s hard, as well, to use power tools of a given kind before you’ve used the hand version. At yesterday’s fair I bypassed all kinds of electric sanders and saws in favor of two working hand drills and a pair of tin snips. I almost bought a book press too, to turn into a mini printing press, but it was $100 and I didn’t have that cash with me.
The guy also had inside-calipers and outside-calipers for precise measurement that may have been a century old, but they cost more than I could have afforded. And yet the result of my not buying them is that we won’t be able to think about those measurements in the design lab. At least, not yet. And this is sort of the point: until you can drill holes easily and precisely, you don’t think about holes as contributing to a solution to a problem. Once holes are part of your repertoire of solutions, because you know how to use a drill, you think about them as part of your mental process.
And so I wonder what set of tools to make available to kids in the design lab. Because whatever tools we give them to use become part of their mental repertoire as well as their physical one.