Monday, May 16, 2016

Maker Culture - some thoughts

Compulsory sector education has been promoting the adoption of 'maker culture' in schools. In NZ, one of the top ten trends noted is the rise of maker culture. The trend has come about through the advent of cheaper and more user friendly 3D printers - see inventables for examples.

Currently extends also to:
-  learning through 'mechatronics' (e.g. lego robotics), 
- the rise of learning coding at primary school - see UK example and theatlantic for a discussion on relevance or non-relevance to school 

However, as lamentated relatively recently by Matthew Crawford in his book - Shop class as Soulcraft - the work of the 'trades' already epitomises the 'maker culture'! See good overview / review by the new atlantis and my book summary  Ditto from the work of Mike Rose - with his book - the mind at work - book summary on blog.

Some acknowledgement within the educational sector of the need for academic learning to be extended through 'working with our hands' is better than none at all. So in a way, the maker culture, albeit with a 'tech' slant, is still a good thing. However, as with all 'trends', important to weigh up the pros and cons and work out what the overall learning objective.

The rise of maker culture, arose outside of the educational sector - see time for overview. In many parts of the world, 'maker culture' has always existed. In the post-industrial West, there is a revival in an appreciation of the skills required in manufacturing. retired tradesmen and hobbyist set up shared machine shops to craft machinery parts of trains, cars, planes etc. being restored as the parts are no longer manufactured. With baby boomers retiring, there is also an increase in 'men's sheds' and the female equivalents in the crafts. My' elderly' friends who belong to craft groups - knitting, crochet, quilting etc. tell me of younger women in their twenties, attracted to the crafts to fulfill the needs of 'being able to make things'. Many of these youngsters have not had the opportunity to learn crafts at school - concentrated on academic objectives. 

Making is therefore something innate in us humans. How to bring the many ways to 'make' into a cohesive objective, usefully integrated into the already crammed school curriculum, will always be a challenge. Trades still need greater visibility, not just as an alternative to academic learning, but as an integral part of being human. To be able to not only conceptualise but to also make.

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