Picturebooks on the Potty: Vol 2., No. 2

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This recommendation isn’t like its predecessors. It’s a book of pictures (and words), rather then a picture book. This one is filled with examples of Chindogu, a kind of design challenge credited to Japanese inventor Kenji Kawakami. Chindogu offer solutions to life problems that seem useful at first, but upon further consideration, merely cause more problems for the user. I’m not going to try to describe them here. Just check out Chindogu.com or run a Google image search for a taste. Once you’ve stopped laughing out loud, read on.

I didn’t go looking for this book. It found me while I was cat-sitting for friends. How could anyone resist that wacky cover? I had to borrow it. And I’m so glad I did. (Thanks Julian and Liz! I promise to return it ASAP.)

Rosa and her gal pal spent a good while with it after school today and George, our resident STEM student poured over it at dinner. Their unsolicited enthusiasm for it got me thinking about creativity and invention. Art educators wonder whether these are things that can be taught, and of course our jobs depend on finding ways to make that possible. But sometimes we all just need a good strong dose of inspiration. This book offers that in spades.

I can think of a handful of my students who are interested the STEAM approach to education that would find Chindogu interesting. Likewise, Kawakami’s tenents for Chindogu offer parameters for creation that echo parameters set forth in design thinking. I’d love to see an enterprising art educator create an educational resource around this modern day Japanese tradition. At the very least, I hope this book will find its way into a few classrooms. It may be absurd, but I think we could use a bit more of that in our schools.

 

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