Reflection on Class
I am still very much intrigued not just about the relationship between making and learning, but my peers perception of it. I am fortunate enough to love learning to the point that reading textbooks, doing math sheets, and taking tests are fun; I have always felt a connection between learning and play. That is simply the way my education was presented to me from a very young age. What is difficult to realize when you grow up assuming something, is that others have had very different experiences. Not everyone considers learning and playing to be synonymous.
Both my peers and I are not part of the workforce driven Common Core generation, but of the era when education focused on creating good citizens. What this tells me is that priorities in education are continually changing. If integrating maker movement features into k-12 education is the next step, I do not know. What I do believe is that is would not be a negative step. At the moment, education is focused on successively adding skills. A sort of scaffolding, that is being build up to something. Whether that something is getting into a good college, or being a positive part of the workforce is up for debate. Some students are very good at learning foundational skills and building upon them throughout their K – 12 education. At the moment, these kids are seen as the most promising, the ones to raise up and support. But, what about the children who are not good at creating a solid scaffolding?
By integrating the maker movement principles into K-12 education, there could be a shift from the scaffolding approach to a more natural attainment of skills. Instead of a single set building plan for every student, each student could freely decide what shape their skills would take for themselves. It is a bit radical and so, a major tension in the maker movement making its way into schools. It is the kids do not know enough about the world to choose their own path versus the idea that they should have at least some freedom to decide what skills they wish to attain. It was even suggested in class that the maker movement approach would allow schools the freedom to raise up and support the children that do not currently thrive under the current system. As Michigan Makers and other maker programs integrate themselves into the community, it will be interesting to see how these tensions play out.
Reflection on Readings
This weeks readings focus on the manufacturing potential of the maker movement. With all the political talk about the new industrial revolution and frustration among blue collar workers, there is a desire to see the same high paying, high volume jobs that our grandfathers had in manufacturing. As the world becomes increasingly automated, we may not see that type of manufacturing jobs again. However, the maker movement and the DIY shift into technological spaces may offer a solution.
One very interesting component was the idea that making returns to physical materials, even as manufacturing becomes more technologically driven. This materiality offers hope for the concept of the new industrial revolution. As the paper (EmergingSites of HCI Innovation) point out, the insights from this material driven movement are key in the transition from prototypes into products. That transition is key to move a simple DIY into a true manufacturing process. The idea from Why the Maker Movement Matters: Part 1, the Tools Revolution suggests that anything that encourages manufacturing is a plus. If the maker movement is one of these encouraging factors, then it should be prioritized and funded as a way to improve manufacturing.
However, the maker movement manufacturing will not be the same as that our grandparents experienced. The Five ways the Maker Movement can help catalyze a manufacturing renaissance points out that maker movement will support a more decentralized manufacturing sector. This makes sense, as the maker movement thus far has been driven within a unique local community. American manufacturing was once a large scale, large volume phenomenon. If we continue to support the maker movement as a way to increase and improve manufacturing, we may begin to see a smaller scale, smaller output approach that values personalization and creativity.
Thus far, my interests have been primarily focused on the concept of makers and education. These readings help expand that discussion further. They seem to answer the question of what one type of end goal of maker education would look like – in this case it would be an smaller scale manufacturing surge that stems from the creativity and democratizing technology of the maker movement. I do not believe this is the only merit to a maker education, but I do see how it would be valuable in formulating arguments for why the maker movement principles should be integrated into schools.