Show Me the Method

I love the idea behind this, but it will require teachers with superhuman calm and love-of-fellow-man to make it work.

My first question is, how long will the tools stay in their places? I worked in shops attached to National Science Foundation projects in education, managed by highly educated dreamers. They wanted everyone to have free access to tools so tools were bought, hung on brightly-painted tool boards, and outlines of each tool were provided so everything could go back in its place and any missing items would be instantly obvious. All the tools were gone in a week. Tool disappearance was so sudden and complete that it was almost audible. Hammers, wrenches, pliers – gone.

One of us technicians decided to run a sociology experiment. He bought a gross of low-priced #2 slotted screwdrivers and put six of them on the tool board. All were gone in a week, so he set out six more. He proposed a theory that once tool saturation was achieved – every house, every car, every vacation cottage with its own screwdriver – the disappearances would stop.

They never did. All 144 undesirable screwdrivers were taken by polite college-grad foundation grant employee types. White collar petty crime? They all really, really meant to bring the screwdrivers back?

Bottom line, though, is that I very much want people to learn to adjust and service their own machinery. I think it’s a value worth pursuing. It adds a new dimension to the technology. I also believe in the value of being set free to make one’s own mistakes, but with advice nearby. Knowledge you discover for yourself is the strongest of lessons. Problem is, it all takes time and completion of several projects. So much depends on the teachers.

I love to see the power of the self-taught at the races. One private Supersport team worked like a six-armed machine to freshen up their top end. A young clubman came to tell me his crank had rattled out in the last practice. In 45 minutes he rolled past, engine running, a new crank installed in his RD. It feels great to be able. You become unstoppable. I felt that way after clearing a seizure at the roadside, and continuing my journey.

Can’t learn? That was some people’s verdict when Bell announced plans to build a B-29 plant outside of Atlanta, Georgia. Prejudice cuts all ways – the doubters reckoned “ignorant, illiterate farmers” couldn’t build airplanes. Sorry, bud, humans is humans. The airplanes got built.

Let’s see how it goes.