One trend I've noticed recently is a cultural blowback against over-protecting our children. The Dangerous Book for Boys is at the forefront of this trend, but something else along these lines that really piqued my interest was a TED talk given by Gever Tully (Note: there are hundreds of video TED talks available through iTunes and many of them are fascinating. They are short, snappy, and powerful. The TED Web site is here). Tully has founded the "Tinkering School." The concept of the school is to allow children to mess around things that they are underexposed to because many parents that think they are dangerous, including knives, fire, and technology.
A TED talk in which J.J. Abrams mentions the impact his grandfather had on him, particularly in the way his grandfather allowed to mess with technology reinforced my conviction that I had to act on Tully's advice.Well, today I got out an old HP computer and let my sons help me take it apart and the result was smashing. They were fascinated and my oldest son took a real sense of pride in the whole endeavor. Hopefully, it is a first step toward a relationship to technology that my family has a rich history in but I have not carried on quite to the level of my grandfather, who is a lifetime tinkerer.
There are so many reports about America falling behind in science and technology and the lack of hands-on experience may be a major part of it. So, if you have some old lying around pcs, don't recycle, destroy.
(Of course, we can only hope that maybe the LEGO Mindstorm will inspire a new generation of innovators).