The Maker Studio at the Children’s Museum of South Dakota is designed to promote inquiry, play, and imagination, though it’s not uncommon for those important “life lessons” to come through as well. The following is a continuation of Making and Making Mistakes, a story of one student’s experience in the Maker Studio.
Louie and I fell into a comfortable routine. We would build cars and draw together and we could make mistakes, speaking our new mantra “If everything was the same wouldn’t the world be boring?” back to each other whenever the unexpected would happen.
After a month of knowing Louie, we had a wonderful rapport and I could tell he was comfortable with me and the space. But as the saying goes, it’s always calm before a storm. One afternoon a co-worker, Charles, was in the Maker Studio with Louie and me. Having gotten to know each other the prior month, Louie cherished the times when Charles joined us. I encouraged Louie to show his drawing skills and teach Charles how to draw a police car. Louie happily obliged. Just as the two of them were finishing up their cars, Charles wrote the word “police” on the side of the car.
“You aren’t supposed to write the word ‘police’ on the side of the car.”
“I wanted to make sure everyone knows it’s a police car.”
“They know, Charles! It has sirens.”
“Well, I just wanted to make sure they knew.”
Louie walked across the room and started building another car. He needed some space to process his feelings.
After some time, I knelt next to Louie and opened a dialogue.
“Do you remember when we talked about how it’s okay for things to be different?”
“Charles may have put ‘police’ on the side of his car because he liked it there, and that’s okay. But when you reacted by yelling you may have hurt his feelings. As a friend, we need to be supportive.”
Louie nodded, but still wanted to be heard.
“But I thought it looked better before he wrote ‘police’.”
“I know, but if he liked it better after writing ‘police’, we should support him because it’s his drawing.”
Louie nodded and continued to reflect on the situation. From across the room, Charles hollered, “Hey Louie, I’m finished now. Do you want to see my drawing?”
Louie wasn’t convinced he wanted to, but after a moment and through gritted teeth, Louie said, “Yeah.”
“What do you think of it?” Charles asked.
“It looks nice,” Louie said with a smile.
A couple of weeks later, as a show of solidarity with his friend, Louie called Charles over while he was finishing up his clay police car.
“Watch!” he said.
With a pointed clay tool, he slowly yet deliberately engraved the word “police” on the side of his sculpture. Then he looked up.
“Do you like it, Charles?”
The experience Louie had with Charles shows us that not only do we need to show ourselves compassion when mistakes happen, but we should show the same compassion to others when they bring a new perspective to the table.
After all, if we all had the same ideas, wouldn’t the world be boring?