Toolbelt Theory

A young construction worker reaches into his tool belt.

Toolbelt Theory is based in the concept that students must learn to assemble their own readily available collection of life solutions. They must learn to choose and use these solutions appropriately, based in the task to be performed, the environment in which they find themselves, their skills and capabilities at that time, and the ever-changing universe of high and low-tech solutions and supports.

A Toolbelt for a Lifetime

So, the Toolbelt is designed to:

  • Break the dependence cycle
  • Develop lifespan technology skills
  • Limit limitations
  • Empower student decision making
  • Prepare students for life beyond school

Source: A Toolbelt for a Lifetime

We all have different needs and different tool belts. At Stimpunks, we push back against sameness-based notions of fairness with needs-based toolbelt framing. We’re co-creating personalized toolbelts to meet learners’ needs.

Young Construction Worker Reaches Into His Tool Belt

We want our children to discover how to choose effectively for their own needs. To do that, they need choices, and so we believe in Toolbelt Theory.

The Basics of Open Technology

No student will have mechanical limitations in access to either information or communication — whether through disability, inability at this moment, or even just discomfort. Learning is our goal, and we make it accessible.

We hand our students real laptops with real capabilities, and we fill them with software, apps, and bookmarks.

We want our children to discover how to choose effectively for their own needs. To do that, they need choices, and so we believe in Toolbelt Theory.

The Basics of Open Technology
Young Asian girl wearing rainbow colored headphones studying with laptop at home during pandemic
Tools in tool belt

Tools matter though. They are the most basic thing about being human.

They matter most for those who lack the highest capabilities.

And everyone needs a properly equipped Toolbelt to get through life.

Toolbelt Theory for Everyone

Allow learners to be the experts on themselves and to have a menu of supports to choose from so that they will know that they can get what they need.

On Honor & Excellence in Education w/ Tesha Fritzgerald – YouTube

We can’t always prescribe the intervention or the support, but we have to have a menu that every learner understands that they can choose from it to see exactly what they need.

We think ahead for the predicted supports that would be needed and then we allow learners to pick and choose what they need.

And we would be surprised. I know I’m often surprised when I give a menu of support, and I think that some of my students would choose one, maybe. They choose three, where I would only think one would work for them. Maybe they go through all of the resources, when I would think that they would gravitate towards one kind.

And so that’s the beauty of a universally designed learning environment that thinks ahead to what would be the barriers for learners. And, as we learn them, as we listen to their voices, we learn more about what they need, and then we make those supports available to all the learners in the environment.

On Honor & Excellence in Education w/ Tesha Fritzgerald – YouTube

Constructionism, collaborative niche construction, bricolage, and toolbelt theory go great together. Imagine the possibilities in your spheres, especially for spiky profiles.

Learn how we use bricolage on our bricolage page.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Published by Ryan Boren

#ActuallyAutistic retired technologist turned wannabe-sociologist. Equity literate education, respectfully connected parenting, passion-based learning, indie ed-tech, neurodiversity, social model of disability, design for real life, inclusion, open web, open source. he/they