Sunday, October 21, 2012

enabling constraints

Just before I left New York for the desert, I came across an artist named Brett Doar while doing a web search for kinetic sculpture.  I commented on this video (my YouTube channel name is jgizmo) and we became webfriends and still are to this day.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgD4TzTjfxs&list=UUsJc0HfyCH-uoq0nPhOThdg&index=27&feature=plcp  Watching this again after all these years - I am struck by the first thing he said in the video.  (Carl approves!)   I have followed Brett's career and we correspond occasionally to stroke each other's ego.  He now works and teaches in LA and lends his talents to an interesting company called Syyn Labs, building Rube Goldberg machines.  He recently posted this link on his Facebook page.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=YV6a1SDHWIc  At 8:20 in the video, Adam Sadowsky via Brett,  introduced me to the term enabling constraints and explains it in relation to their work.  I finally found a good name for something I use on a daily basis.

A further search came up with this quote from Amy Newman http://dancingwithelephants.ca/tag/enabling-constraints/
"In our teacher education module, we explored the notion of “enabling constraints. I discovered the term in the book, Engaging Minds. Enabling constraints are about opening possibilities by limiting choices.Very simply put, too much choice is overwhelming. Too little choice is restrictive, squelching learning and creativity. By giving choices in lesson activities and projects within a given structure we are providing enabling constraints."
Enabling constraints are not prescriptive; they don’t dictate what MUST be done, rather they are expansive, indicating what MIGHT be done… from Engaging Minds (2000), Davis, Sumara, Luce-Kapler, p. 193 

When getting started out here in the desert, I had almost unlimited possibilities.  Whenever I am faced with such an opportunity - I look for what I had previously called givens that guide me down a certain path.  An example of this is:  How big do I build my new house?  My chosen constraints were based on budget, the size of dimensional lumber that is commercially available, and my thoughts on the minimum amount of space I needed to live comfortably.  The constraints on my greenhouse were - I wanted to use 4 shipping containers to outline a courtyard...how I arranged them was based on the space available on site and an esoteric design aesthetic that I have embraced over the years.  In everything I do, I look for things I know to guide me down an uncertain path.

God granted mankind free will...then gave his only Son to die for our sins.  He has provided us all with His teachings and prophecies - there for the taking...or not.  In a brilliant move, He did not want to limit our potential by restricting our free choice but decided to was time to give the world a strong hint (an enabling constraint) about which path to take when He sent Jesus Christ to teach the masses and ultimately die on the Cross for all of mankind - past, present, and future.  We are all free to choose but the choices in a physical world with no constraints can be overwhelming and Satan takes full advantage of that.  77,91,57,0,C,0

11 comments:

Stew Grant said...

Another great post...

remmij said...

you are doing some cogitating while negotiating the vastness and making the connections.
never know when the past pieces will click into place.
Glorious sky, subtle ground.

Peter Holt said...

"enabling constraints"!! How exciting to have a name for the phenomenon. Been mulling over limitation as a manner of sparking/focusing creative inspiration for a long while without being all the aware of it until I saw an interview with rocker Jack White espousing exactly that a couple years back. Not that I'm a huge fan of his results, but the still - it works. Powerfully, at times.

Don said...

Well said my friend.
don from Big Spring, Tx

Greg said...

Do the best you can with what you've got.

Pablo said...

LIKE
yur philosophy dude
"Enabling constraints are about opening possibilities by limiting choices.Very simply put, too much choice is overwhelming. Too little choice is restrictive, squelching learning and creativity. By giving choices in lesson activities and projects within a given structure we are providing enabling constraints."
Yu can be Cain # 2 there in the desert and by sure many -me included- will attend yur sermon and Church, if founded one...that might be yur path out of that man xxx
Need yu as my Pastor .

djc said...

Sunday's posts are my favorite ones.

djc

remmij said...

this is a little Monday related - just caught a some of the stream & Floppy is looking pretty rough - combat or does he have some kind of hide crud? He did seem to appreciate the fly spray and treats... hope he recovers quickly.

John Wells said...

Floppy recently lost the battle for his girlfriend with another burro.

K1MGY said...

This same concept, "enabling constraints", is at the heart of Marie Montessori's teachings (she, the founder of the Montessori Method of Education). In her work, a "prepared environment", with materials designed for very specific purposes and in harmony with the natural curiosity and learning stage of a student, is set before them. Not too much. Not too sparse. And they have free choice to follow their interests within the boundaries established.

It is a brilliant, enlightened idea which transposes to a way of living.

This same wonderful principle should also find itself applied to industrial design. For all I wanted was a VCR that would play, rewind, and turn on and off. But among all the other buttons, I couldn't get it to do a damn thing!

Chris Miller said...

huh? =P

Chris Miller
Our180.com - One Family's Journey To Finding True Happiness