Name the Kludge
Kludge is an ugly fix, something that might get the job done but never makes you proud.
My first pass on almost everything is kludge, but that first pass allows me to lock down what the work needs to be. If your students build anything that’s NOT kludge, you’ll hear about it before the bell rings. Managers will rarely reject your kludgy solution, you’ll be sheepish and embarrassed when you have to share it with your team. Kludge can spring from poor design choices, shifting demands, tight deadlines, lack of skill, or marauding ducks. All that mateters, once the immediate kludge-prompting crisis has passed, is the work of clearing it out.
There’s a ton of kludge in our schools, and we should talk about it more. How many of a school’s rules exist to patch over poor design decisions by adults? I stopped using rubrics when they seemed to reveal the limits of my imagination more than they provided a ladder for student’s creativity.
Kludge in your own project might be embarrassing, but it comes at a reasonably low price. The nightmare kludge comes from inheriting a project with obscure, non-sensible half-baked solutions to unstated problems. For inherited kludge, the best case scenario wastes your time fixing the original problem. The worst case scenario has accepted the kludge solution as cannon, and all new ideas are constrained by those ancient, hasty, ill-formed decisions.
Kids are trapped in a world of kludge that adults pretend is optimal design.