Tinkering and Gizmology

A Breakwater School Student Exhibition

On View: April 7 – 30, 2023 at Maine Craft Portland

As a word, tinkering tugs on a network of cultural associations, many of which are suggestive of idle busyness or casual amateurism. At Breakwater School, however, we believe that tinkering—as a cluster of behaviors—is so closely aligned with the ways in which children innately interact with and learn about their environment that it deserves a celebrated and central role in their education. That is: spontaneous, self-initiated, and experimental “messing about” is analogous to the way in which children (and adults) performatively make their way through the world, discover affordances for action, discipline their perception, expand their cognition, and learn to skillfully shape their surroundings.

The purpose of tinkering at Breakwater is to provide a habitat in which students may engage in proactive, self-generated exploration of the material world and work out the nature of their agency within it. At a pedagogical level, tinkering carves out space within a child’s education for direct, embodied intervention to be the primary mechanism of knowledge synthesis and personal growth.

Breakwater’s mission is to engage our students in an optimal learning experience that inspires them to live well on the planet, embrace their whole being, and realize their full potential. We accomplish this by continually reviewing and applying best educational practice while remaining true to our community’s values and spirit.