I first heard of Gever Tulley and his Tinkering School a couple of months ago on the NPR news program, All Things Considered. Any body who wants to put power tools, fire, and knives into the hands of children is ok in my book. I wanted to know more. I did a search and found that he had done a TED talk. I think the nine minute video is well worth the time but the part that is germaine to our study here is his fifth item. He encourages kids to violate the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA). He mentions in his talk how he has the children do this:
- buy a song on I-Tunes
- write it to a CD
- rip the CD to an MP3
- play it
but he doesn’t say what the conversation is that accompanies the activity.
I suppose that’s a reasonable approach. Such a conversation is probably best left to a child and their parent. I wonder, however, how many parents are actually prepared to have a conversation like this. I suspect the percentage is low. It is an intriguing thing that he introduces into his talk. It is quite subtle. Most parents know something about gravity, sharp things, and fire but how many know anything about the digital environment? Tulley is teaching parents something. You would not let your child get beyond the age of six without having a safety talk about fire. How about the DMCA? Would you even know if your child was sitting in the next room breaking the law?
Maybe you like the law and maybe you don’t. Maybe you would allow your child to break it and maybe you wouldn’t. But shouldn’t you be prepared to talk to them about what it means because they know enough to do it and so should you.