I have a wide range of kinaesthetic toys that I use in the classroom to help improve retention and make learning more engaging. They help bring energy to the room, learners love them – and even those who don’t actively fiddle with them, often find them a talking point or icebreaker at the start of the day.

Last week I did a spot of “Summer Cleaning”, working my way through all my toys and taking out the ones that in my opinion needed replacing.

In the batch of things I brought down to discard was a toy that looks like a ball but expands when you throw it. I have a picture if you can’t quite imagine it.

Bits of it were broken so the toy no longer kept its ball shape when thrown. I was ready to get rid of it. But when I came downstairs, there was mum, armed with questions:
“Why are you throwing this away?”
“What’s wrong with it?”
“Can you show me how it’s supposed to work?”

Then she looked at me and said:
“All you need to fix this is a needle and thread”

And in an instant she blew my mind. The thought would have never occurred to me.

But my mum has always been resourceful like that. We even have a special nickname for her,  firstly because she can always manage to scrape something together from nothing, and secondly because she’s adept at making sure she gets every last ounce of product out of a container and ekes all the use out of something that she can – even going to great lengths to do so.

The incident has stuck with me.  I can’t stop thinking about it. And so I’m going to write something that my mum is going to love – I need to start thinking more like her! And by that I mean reflecting more on the value of things and also being more willing to put the work in to repair, instead of replacing.

I think about how many things in a week I “throw away”.  When things don’t work, and not just physical items, but sometimes ideas, concepts and exercises I often lean toward starting from scratch, throwing everything out and beginning again. And don’t get me wrong, sometimes that may be the right answer. But sometimes, maybe I need to be a bit more like mum, making sure I’ve taken everything that I can – like key lessons, elements that are useful and do work, or can be used elsewhere and maybe even the start off new ideas before moving forward. In the same breath, I also need to be more willing to put the work and effort in to make repairs – finesse ideas, find a solution or a workaround for things that didn’t quite work to make things better. Maybe someday I’ll even earn my own nickname for perfecting the art.

And so, I challenge you to do the same. What are you throwing out this week that could be re-used?