Saturday, February 27, 2016
The Rube Goldberg Insanity
I had never heard of Rube Goldberg, but was once given the chance to grade a “Rube Goldberg” contest. First, I declined because I was busy, but secondly, after reading about Rube Goldberg projects I probably would have rejected the invite based on learning and or educational differences. Rube Goldberg was a cartoonist and inventor. A Rube Goldberg project tries to find a complicated way to solve a problem. I agree that a Rube Goldberg project is not all bad and does stimulate the thinking process for kids. However, that is as far as I will go. I see many more negative aspects of a Rube Goldberg project: 1. Rube Goldberg projects are convoluted solutions to solve simple problems and they have no value in American society. They are useless. It would be more useful to have students to try to invent something novel. 2. Rube Goldberg projects are not practical because they are not efficient. When hiring engineers at my former employer I was in search for the most practical and efficient engineers (and that was not an easy task). For that reason, Rube Goldberg projects set a bad precedent in the learning process – teaching kids that impracticality and inefficiency may be useful. Instead, it would be more useful for children to find more efficient solutions to simple problems that would be useful inventions. 3. Rube Goldberg projects teach chaos over organization. Organization is an often overlooked characteristic of successful engineers and people in general. 4. Rube Goldberg is now a catch phrase. Unfortunately, its meaning has a bad connotation. For instance, if a legislator is referred to the “Rube Goldberg” of Washington legislation - that is not a good thing. It means they are convoluted, impractical, and inefficient. I would place this label on some Obama legislation that has failed – ObamaCare, the Stimulus, and so forth. To be labeled as the Rube Goldberg of you field is not good. If that is true, then how can learning the Rube Goldberg way to solve problems be advantageous? I truly believe our educational system is going backwards: eliminating programs and subjects, focusing on standardized government testing, placing athletics above academics, and now rewarding projects which are the most inefficient, convoluted, and least practical. It is no wonder we are fast falling behind other nations around the globe.