Inventing small contraptions

Spoon power! (and that’s nothing to do with the Tick)
spoonpower (24k image)
Here is a snap I took last thursday in a class I had with our Stage 1 IT students.

OK, I didn’t completely stop teaching students. One of the classes I do take is an additional one for the new students. One afternoon per week for one hour we — myself and Pauline (another teachner, not the principal) go to the dining hall (psychologically not a classroom) and do some fun (I hope) stuff with them. This week I had them playing Balderdash/Call My Bluff: making up fake meanings for obscure words. Last week they were making small rubber-band powered vehicles!

Here are some more pics from that session…

spools (40k image)

Before that we did a lot of story telling: including a nice game where we all had to speak for exactly one minute — stopping abruptly when the timer on my ‘phone beeped — and then someone else would take over and continue the story but each of us was given a random object from a bag of very random objects from my house (I was amazed at the bunch of random stuff I’ve managed to accumulate over the last sixteen and a half months) which they had to weave into the story.

A couple of weeks ago we all had to build a tower we could from an edition of The Nation newspaper without tools or tape:
towers (37k image)

We measured them and the group with the tallest got small prizes.
measuring (37k image)

One of the nicest things about this class is that it was Pauline’s initiative that started it, not mine. Its completely voluntary from our perspectives, but we’d like it to remain a part of college life at least for the IT students. I mentioned the idea many months ago when I was first suffering the wall of silence in class. When, at the end of lat term, I announced my early retirement from classroom teaching, Pauline asked what I was going to do with my time and suggested that we pick up the idea of a Thinking Out Of The Box class for the incoming Stage 1.

I seems that each stage (cohort) develops a group dynamic of its own: a kind of collective personality. Im sure there are theories about this, and refutations to match, but this is our experience. We can only hope that by doing this with the incoming students we might steer the development of that personality so that it becomes confident and outgoing rather than dull and retiring. Erm. We might need to fine-tune the process a bit, that Call My Bluff game was very quiet.