Life Lessons Through Tinkering

If you’re reading this webpage, it is likely that you are studying for your IELTS exam. As a student of English, you know that it can be a difficult experience to learn a new language. However, everyone learns differently. For some people, it even seems easy! Yet we all have ways that work for us and don’t work for others.

Most children learn best through doing. Sure, they need to listen and read sometimes, but they acquire knowledge through playing and figuring out problems with their hands. This is called tinkering.

In Gever Tulley’s TED talk from 2009, he explains why he started an unconventional school where students don’t study out of books. Instead, they learn problem solving by tinkering with all sorts of things.


True or False

  1. Tinkering School is a traditional school.
  2. The school gives students limited supplies.
  3. He thinks kids have too little free time these days.
  4. The aim is for students to learn through their actions.
  5. The students learn to plan better.
  6. He runs the project himself.
  7. Failures are celebrated there.
  8. Students become more creative when faced with problems.
  9. They produce a lot of trash there.


Do you think that kids these days spend too much time indoors?

Yeah, I think that many children spend too much time inside. In the past, kids would normally spend lots of time playing outside, but now they’re expected to study constantly. Even when they’re not studying, they’re usually staring at a screen. They need more sunshine and fresh air, not to mention the chance to experience the world around them and learn by tinkering with the stuff they find.


  1. F – it is new and unusual
  2. F – they are given lots of stuff to use
  3. T
  4. T
  5. F – students learn to cope with plans going wrong
  6. F – he runs it with Robin
  7. T
  8. T
  9. F – they learn to reuse trash

Author: David S. Wills

David S. Wills is the author of Scientologist! William S. Burroughs and the 'Weird Cult' and the founder/editor of Beatdom literary journal. He lives and works in rural China, and loves to travel. He has worked as an IELTS tutor since 2010, has completed both TEFL and CELTA courses, and has a certificate from Cambridge for Teaching Writing. In 2018, he wrote the popular IELTS handbook, Grammar for IELTS Writing. His other IELTS website is called IELTS Teaching.

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