Story 11: Learning to Lead

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Part III: 1970s: Distributed Leadership: Inventing the Tools to Make It Work

Written by Mike Spock

As a recovering dyslexic, I am still a hands-on person. I like to figure out how to get thing done and solve problems where the solutions are not obvious. I am fascinated by the skills and tools that allow people to create things that go beyond what we can leverage on our own.

When I dropped out of Antioch and found work apprenticing at Ted Bolle's millwork shop, I learned how to make things with wood: sash, doors, entry gates, production kitchen cabinets, furniture. Later, I divided my time between the shop floor and the mill office figuring out how to prepare working drawings so that serviceable casework could be dimensioned and built.

In that year I learned the rudiments of cabinetmaking and furniture design without leaving any fingers behind in the sawdust pile beneath unforgiving woodworking machines. This practical training turned out to be useful when I returned to school and on to my next Antioch work experience: I was turned loose to design and build exhibits at the Dayton Museum of Natural History, and, some years later in Boston, when we actually developed and installed What's Inside?, The Children's Museum's first hands-on exhibit.

So, whether moving exhibits out from behind glass cases, or writing challenging proposals, or inventing unconventional systems for managing the museum, the practical problem-solving at the conceptual edge of my imagination grew to become a natural part of my personal tool box and of The Children's Museum's creative repertory.

Next: Tracking the Money: Phyl O'Connell & Mary Babine