The IIT Institute of Design is undertaking some very interesting work with American libraries prototyping what they call ‘Thinkering spaces’ for children.
I’m particularly struck by how appropriate this research is for museums, and how many museums have already made large steps in this direction.
Tinkering for the sake of one’s own discovery promotes more than just learning about the topic of inquiry. Tinkering further promotes the development of critical thinking skills that will prepare kids as they encounter future, more-complex scenarios. The trends resulting from the digital revolution indicate a demand for all kids to develop more progressive skills for future success. In particular, the following list of competencies, formerly seen as niche skills sets, is forecast to be of major importance for today’s kids in their adult futures:
– Creative Thinking (developing intellectual independence and multiple perspectives)
– Systems Understanding (seeing meaningful relationships in complexity)
– Innovative Problem Solving (framing problems in unconventional ways and connecting ideas through lateral thinking)
– Information Management (knowing how to find, organize and use resources)
– Interdisciplinary Teamwork (collaborating effectively across disciplines)
By providing kids with opportunities to develop these competencies they will be better equipped to face future issues. The experience of tinkering, self-directed discovery, and peer engagement within both physical and digital environments can help kids to develop these competencies. The ThinkeringSpace initiative aims to support and nurture children in their exploratory activities to help them develop these important skills.