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    Meddlesome, Then Meddle Some More: Uncovering the Built-in Benefits of Messing with Stuff.



    Don’t touch that.


    Put that down.


    Please stop messing with that!


    As a youngster you probably heard this sort of thing all the time and as a parent these piercing words of warning have probably fired off your tongue more times than you care to count.


    Why?


    Because kids will be kids and while ya gotta love em there’s no dancing around the fact that their meddling can be downright maddening at times.


    It seems no matter what you say or how many times you say it they just can’t manage to keep their itchy little fingers to themselves.


    Be that as it may you might want to consider stuffing a sock in your disciplinary discourse, because like it or not in this wee kingdom curiosity rules, and when it puts on its inquisitive crown it’s game on, it’s time to get touchy-feely, to forage through and fiddle with anything and everything within arm’s reach.


    Disheartening?


    It certainly can be, but did you ever stop to think that…well, maybe junior’s on to something?



    In her 1956 essay, The Sense of Wonder, pioneering conservationist and activist Rachel Carson wrote, “If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout a lifetime.


    ”In retrospect, the 50’s were relatively quiet in terms of round-the-clock technology, unlike today where it seems every time you blink another flurry of technological wonders hits the market, and while it’s hard to argue that they don’t deliver on their promise of enhancing and/or improving our lives, the mechanics behind some of these modern day marvels can be crazy complicated.


    But hey, as long as they work, right?


    As long as you can figure out how they work.


    It was Dr. Wayne Dyer who confessed that if his car ever refused to start his sole course of action would be to pop the hood and pray for an on-off button, because outside of that he said, ”I’m screwed.”


    Something else Dr. Dyer also made clear was that although he didn’t know much about how his car’s engine worked he didn’t much care to know.


    In other words, he wasn’t the least bit curious, and I think it’s safe to say that the good doctor was not alone.


    Think about it, if you suddenly found yourself stranded on the side of the road in your AWD Hybrid Crossover SLT with integrated navigation system and pilot assist would your immediate impulse be to reach into the glove box pull out the manual and start troubleshooting?


    Would you bound out of your vehicle, roll up the sleeves and crawl up under the hood and begin rummaging around for the would-be problem?


    Or would you call AAA and tell them to come get your broken down butt?


    Pronto!


    As civilized creatures with a fondness for newness it’s near impossible not to appreciate the comforts and conveniences of today’s technology, yet how it all works, who the hell cares?


    Besides, given your already strapped schedule why would you want to spend even an iota of your time on something that you don’t much care about?


    But now what about those things you do care about?


    What about those things you genuinely are curious about?




    With progress comes change, and with that change comes new and unforeseen challenges.


    What hasn’t changed however is how we face those challenges.


    What isn’t new is how we learn and how we grow.


    Maybe that’s why I can’t help snicker whenever some old codger says the reason kids are so technically savvy these days is because they’ve grown up with the stuff.


    Funny, I think to myself, I grew up with yo-yo’s and Hula Hoops, so why is it I suck at both?


    But seriously, to suggest someone be competent at something merely because they’ve grown up with it is like saying Mozart became a prolific composer simply because he grew up during the Classical period, or that Wayne Gretzky arguably came to be the greatest hockey player of all time because he happened to grow up in the icy area code of Brantford Ontario, Canada.


    There’s no question that technology is more prevalent than ever before, and that it plays a substantial role in today’s culture, but the reason young people are so proficient at it isn’t solely because they’ve grown up with it, it’s because they invest time in it.

    It’s because they mess with it and fiddle with it.


    It’s because like Mozart, like Gretzky, like anyone young or old who’s ever gotten damn good at something, they dig in and do what it takes, and by doing so they cultivate an honest-to-goodness understanding as to what it actually does take, and how things really work.


    Tell me and I will forget. Show me and I will remember. Involve me and I will understand.

    It’s an age old adage yet one that’s as relative today as the day it was originated.


    Reading, studying, theoretical problem solving, even shrewd observation are all indispensable to learning, but being hands on is hands down the most effective way to hone new skills and build real-life expertise.


    So, if the inner workings of a combustible engine aren’t your thing, or the fundamentals of artistic glassblowing are something you couldn’t give a rat’s ass about, don’t waste your time.


    But when it comes to those things you do care something about, when it comes to things you’re even the slightest bit curious about, by all means, tap into that childlike sense of wonder, be that kid in a candy store.


    Go ahead, mess with it, and if it speaks to you keep messing with it, you’ll be amazed by what you learn and all you can accomplish.


    As for those meddlesome little munchkins with the big-eyed curiosity, keep em in your heart and by your side, but the next time they start testing your patience cut em some slack.


    After all, they’re just doing what comes natural.


    In their own spirited and very un-adult-like way, they’re simply reminding us all of what we should be doing a whole lot more of, and for that, like I say…ya gotta love em.


    See ya soon, till then, keeep it up

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