Built in

There’s a pair of kids in my neighborhood I probably wouldn’t recognize without their bike helmets.  Whenever I see them they’re on wheels – scooters, bikes, skateboards, Ripstiks.

There’s a pattern in the way they use the equipment at hand.  When it’s new or recently borrowed, they ride it around in front of their houses, getting acquainted with it and its basic functionality.  Then they ride to the end of the street and back a bunch of times.

Once they’ve got the hang of transport, they start looking for other ways to use their wheels.  One day I walked by and one of them was balanced on his scooter handlebars in a plank position, angled such that the scooter was still able to move without tipping over.  Another day there was a pile of loose stone in the street for a construction event and they were out on their bikes experimenting with the speed and rider position required to skim up and over the pile without getting lodged in the top layer of stone.

No one tells these kids to be creative, to challenge themselves. They just do it.  It’s built in, this drive to raise the level of one’s craft.  It’s expressed differently in different people – might be drawing, talking, writing, building, organizing, inventing, snowboarding, researching, cooking – but it’s a built-in feature.  A tremendously valuable and potent feature that’s often overlooked and undermined in the name of education.