Photographer Graciela Iturbide studied film before taking up photography.

The Value of Hands-on Experience

I have to confess that I have been wondering if knowledge is becoming conceptual for a lot of students.  Adam Savage, co-host of MythBusters, speaks to this in his Problem Solving talk at the Maker Faire (2010).  Savage candidly states that, every time he goes into a project thinking he understands absolutely everything involved in order to work through it and get it done, he finds that he screws it up.  In short, he doesn’t understand what’s going on until he gets his hands involved and starts to build it.  This, I believe is the weak link for a lot of young people—they work on their computers almost exclusively, which is only one venue of receiving information and one tool (though a variety of programs) by which to create something.  Are students getting hands-on experience?  Are they building or making what they design?  Do they get the opportunity to handle the materials to see how they work when manipulated or fit with other materials (or mechanisms)?

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