A few weekends ago I went to a fundraiser at The Crucible. It’s a maker space for industrial artists in Oakland with classes in everything from jewelry making to designing your own cast iron waffle maker (sign me up!). They have a foundry, a ceramics studio and more in their West Oakland warehouse. At the event, the founder Michael Sturtz introduced Carl Bass, the CEO of Autodesk, who was winning an award. Carl didn’t have much to say, but Michael read a quote by Buckminster Fuller that really struck a cord in me. Buckminster Fuller, for those of you who were not lucky enough to have a crazy father like mine to teach you this fact, was the inventor of the geodesic dome. He was also a philosopher, artist, architect and designer. If you Google him you’ll find a treasure trove of quotes that I think will resonate with the teacher in all of us. On this particular night, the quote was:
“If you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don’t bother trying to teach them. Instead give them a tool, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking.”
It was the perfect quote to describe the theory of action underlying the Literacy and Math Design Collaborative tools! I think Khan Academy to some extent is doing that with teachers, and Code.org’s Hour of Code has that power, too. But it’s not about the technology. It’s about the design of the tool. Why does it always go back to good design?