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Lifelong Kindergarten

I recently finished Lifelong Kindergarten, by Mitchel Resnick and I’m surprised how good it was. I didn’t have any idea what it was going to be about, but the subtitle “Cultivating Creativity through Projects, Passion, Peers, and Play” was enough for me to pick it up. Much of it is him talking about how two of his creations, the Scratch programming language and the Computer Clubhouse inspire children to make amazing things.

There are two lists of 10 tips each that resonated with me.

For Learners:

  1. Start simple
  2. Work on things that you like
  3. If you have no clue what to do, fiddle around
  4. Don’t be afraid to experiment
  5. Find a friend to work with and share ideas
  6. It’s OK to copy stuff (to give you an idea)
  7. Keep your ideas in a sketchbook
  8. Build, take apart, and rebuild
  9. Lots of things can go wrong; stick with it
  10. Create your own learning tips

For Designers and Developers:

  1. Design for designers
  2. Support low floors and high ceilings
  3. Widen the walls
  4. Connect with both interest and ideas
  5. Prioritize simplicity
  6. Understand (deeply) the people you’re designing for
  7. Invent things that you want to use yourself
  8. Put together a small interdisciplinary design team
  9. Control the design, but leverage the crowd
  10. Iterate, iterate – then iterate again

Some context for 2 (floors and ceilings) and 3 (walls). Low floors and high ceilings is about designing things to be easy to use (low floor), while allowing for a wide range of possibilities (high ceilings). Widening the walls is about providing a space for people to explore different pathways from the low floor to the heigh ceiling. This last one is a bit harder for me to conceptualize how I would apply it to my own products, but it does give me a new thing to think about.

Though the book is about children’s education primarily, the thoughts and ideas presented in this book can be applied to anyone. If you are interested in education or learning, definitely give this a read.

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