kindergardeners rock spaghetti architecture

Kindy builds good skills.

This film is interesting for the discussion of iterative design processes. This is something we talk about in class – the importance of building prototypes over and over and over again during the design process. This has also been the hardest part of learning to design things, for me. In the beginning of the semester I tended to spend half, if not three quarters of the allocated design time in class talking and thinking and writing about my design. And then I’d try making or doing the design and realise that, actually, it’s more useful to talk less and to play more.
I think that a PhD does this to you: it trains you to think about doing things, rather than to actually do them. Which of course is the inverse of learning to dance. You’ll never dance fast or well or interestingly if you just stand there thinking about it. I think that learning jazz routines on the social dance floor, in ‘real time’* has been the single most important part of my education, ever. Of all time.
It’s taught me to work with other people. It’s taught me to observe – to watch and listen. It’s taught me that to make shit, you have to do shit: you can guarantee that you will NEVER learn a routine if you just stand there and look at it. But if you try, you automatically improve your abilities a zillion percent. And even if you don’t get the routine (which most of us won’t), you will learn how your body works. And understanding how your body works is absolutely the most important part of dancing. Or building things.
Learning jazz routines on the social dance floor also teaches you that counting out steps is ridiculous. It’s a silly enforcing of a rigid organising system on something which is far more exciting and slippery. Jazz – in ‘real time’ (ahahhahaha) is bound by phrases and bars and so on, but it is also slippery and busts out of those boundaries with improvisation all the time. If you only learn routines by numbers, you will never learn how to bust out of boundaries and improvise. And improvising is everything that dancing is. Without it, you might as well be… writing pages of the dictionary out by hand. It’s far better to learn a jazz routine by listening to the music and understanding musical structure (and hence choreography and dance structures) by moving your body and using the music as the organising principle.
Off the dance floor, improvisation and iterative design processes teach you the limits of your materials (how strong is a piece of spaghetti), the importance of collaborative design and learning (and you can’t learn to work with people in theory – you can only learn by doing) and the sheer joy of working within a time frame and feeling the adrenaline surging.
I know I’m an adrenaline junky. But I just think life is so much more fun when you give yourself a little jolt of the organically manufactured good stuff.
*I pause here to laugh a lot about the ridiculousness of this idea: dance is always in real time, or else it just doesn’t exist!

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