A file called Dammit

So today is the last day that OUInnovation Hub is open this summer so I was hurriedly finishing up a project  I need for the first week of school using the Laser printer.

So last night I made a series of things I was making for a future event, (No pictures cuz a surprise) and I realized I forgot to make a piece I needed..  Dang it.

So last night I stayed up and I created a file to fix to project and get the missing piece. I also printed a few more “just in case” pieces to solve a problem later.  I called the file missingpieces.ai.   I got up early and headed over the innovation hub to use the laser cutter.

I printed the pieces and then I realized that the pieces were not centered properly and while done, they were not done right!  So I had to print them again!! This time, I called the new file Dammit.

These pieces were were printed on a Acrylic (very expensive but I had bartered for it) so I did not want to waste a inch.. So I asked if I could flip the media over.. and print on the side that still has paper on it.. Normally, the laser burns through paper like masking tape, but it turns out, this paper was thicker. so what did I get?  I got the missing piece, now perfectly centered, on a piece of paper that I would peel off,  so once I pulled the paper off – it was blank..


A student noticed the name of the file as it printed- and I said – “Hey every project has a dammit file – it shows we are learning, right?”

So I had to print it again, use more of my acrylic and finally got the job done right.

So let’s talk about the file called Dammit, the extra trip to print, the extra prints, and the extra media.

There is a need for  file called Dammit – and we need to expect to have moments of redo, moments of failure, and moments of frustration..

When we really work, on things that we care about, don’t we expect to have times to pause, regroup, problem solve, so that we get it right?  Also, sometimes feedback is part of our learning process.

Throughout the process, I talked to the people working in the lab, I asked their advice. They were also shocked that I was left with blank piece.  (We all learned something about this new media that we had not used before).  They gave me solutions, Turn up the laser power, pull back the paper but in the end I had to redo the pieces.

I had extra media – why was I so concerned?  Why I can’t I accept that learning and practice has a price?

I was concerned because I wanted to get it right the first time and I wanted to be an expert right away – but honestly, that is not possible.

Ericssons work on Deliberate practice is often cited when talking about expertise  (read the article here http://projects.ict.usc.edu/itw/gel/EricssonDeliberatePracticePR93.pdf  )   you will often see the statistic that it takes 10 years to be an expert in anything. that is from his work on developing expertise.

However, honestly, to be proficient at something does not take 10 years – but it does take practice, and mistakes and files named Dammit.

So as I have had it mission this summer to learn how to make stuff in the Innovation Hub so I could encourage my students- I have improved, increased my skill, and had a lot of do-overs and projects that I have had to do multiple times. What I learned were nuances of the equipment,  functionality of the software,  human resources available to me, and a much better understanding of scale.  I am also learning to trust my instincts and to let go of the perfect on the first run expectation.   I have looked back at the some of the projects that I made early on.  The 2nd and 3rd iterations are much better, but the earlier ones are not bad and they contain the marks of my learning and the growth.   I am able to communicate my learning, share my projects with others, and give hints to help others be successful. Going through the process has increased my empathy and also made me a co-learner with students.

So Dammit! – in reflection on my summer spent making at the Innovation Hub I learned a lot and I actually put 21st Century Skills to practice- and it only took a few files named Dammit.


PS.. Once I finished the project, and chilled out, I used some extra acrylic to make myself a custom message board.  Sometimes when we release the perfectionism then we can play. 

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