Well I've gone on at length about my delirious rapture concerning the Tinkering School, founder Gever Tulley, and his 5 Dangerous Things (You should definitely let your children do) talk on TED.com which I saw about 2 years ago and which had such a big impact on me. I was so inspired by that talk and went around for awhile trying to convince other people to start a Tinkering School in Austin. People would smile at me in the way you might smile at an insane child so eventually I took it upon myself to try at least leading some tinkering classes,
which were really fun, though of course nowhere near the scope and breadth Gever is able to achieve with the kids. For one thing it's a week of total immersion so they really have time to dig deep into projects, and for another I just don't have the chops, not at all. This bums me out a lot because if I could time travel I'd spend four years of my ill-spent past studying tinkering and then journey back to the present to start my own Tinkering School here in Austin. And I still might do that, I'll just have to hire some real savvy folks to help out. So anyway, la la Gever Tulley is like my hero and I'm just in awe of everything he does, he's so cool... his book came out, Fifty Dangerous Things (You should definitely let your children do) and he like totally published it himself because he didn't feel like making the compromises the other publishers proposed. And it's a freakin' AWESOME book and is the PERFECT gift for kids like ages 7-17... seems like people are always stumped for gifts for kids between those ages, and this book is a perfect one-gifts-serves-all... it's also a really neat bonding book, because kid and parent (or friend, uncle/aunt, whoever) can make a pledge to complete all 50 together with pages for taking notes. And the 50 things are really neat and not necessarily that dangerous or complicated... for me it was refreshing to remember that some things that my kids do that I automatically find annoying are really valuable. Like always always always wanting to play with fire, or wanting to throw something out of a moving vehicle or from a great height... it's actually totally compelling and gives them a visceral/tangible lesson about the world and it's workings so this book gave me the inspiration to let them have at it.
Anyway, it's a great book you should buy it but back to me me ME.... I facebook friended Gever 'cause I'm just cool like that. I was seeing all these updates of his little adventures here and there promoting the book, and it all seemed really homespun, in the way that it would be if you didn't have this giganto publishing company creating a cushy little book tour for you... Gever just tooling around going to Casper, WY to read at a bookstore, and doing an interview on New Zealand radio... and I just got a wild hair last week and decided to write to him to see if he'd be interested in coming to Austin. Why yes, he very much would be, he wrote back. Would I be interested in helping him coordinate some events during his visit? HELLZ YEAH!! I'm jumping for joy over here. I should add that he knew something of me due to facebook and blogs etc. so he had some intimation that I was not a crazy person but still you have to say hats off to a fella who can operate on instinct and actually enjoy doing a book tour that's just kind of a grassroots effort with different peops around the country inviting him places. That is just so cool, that's just Tinkering School cool.
SO, what all is Gever going to be getting up to here in Austin, TX? A truly awesome line-up of events. I've been connecting with some amazing people and the events and people and connections and offers are just flowing together rather magically, I must say. He's going to be speaking to design students at UT (which will be open to the public), then the following evening give a talk at Sri Atmananda with a few other folks like Bernadette on the topic of Innovation in Education... that is going to be supremely awesome and very well attended I can only imagine... and then, bestill my beating heart... he proposed that he do a day-long Tinkering School with a handful of lucky kids, and I get to assist!! This is really truly beyond my wildest dream coming true, 'cause I get to see how the real Tinkering School is done, and gee, just really get to dive head-long into a project and see how it all plays out... my little heart's just going pit-a-pat. So we have all that set up but hope to get Gever lots of coverage and hopefully a news crew and the Statesman and/or The Chronicle will be there to uh, chronicle the awesome event... because you do know that Freerange kids and anti-helicopter parenting are all the rage right now, so this all just fits in perfectly. Looks like this is shaping up to take place end of March, I will most definitely keep you abreast of events as they solidify.
And in the meantime let me assure you that I am excited beyond all measure. To your left take note of some kid safety labels Gever designed for Make Magazine. You can click on the picture if you want to see it bigger and actually read the text.