Reflection on Class
As I was not in class last week, having been regrettably sick, I thought I would take this space to talk a little bit more about Dougherty’s ideas in chapter 11. Where the majority of my reflection can be found below, I wanted to reflect on what we have learned and what I have read in this section today. However, that ended up lacking a certain continuity. The discussion intended to here, is now a very long reflection on the readings.
Reflection on Readings
The world, the library community, and all levels in between struggle to concretely define the concept of goodness. What differentiates good legislation from bad? What characteristics make a collection development policy good? Some would say that goodness can be measured by the impact it has on the most amount of people – 75% of people are positively impacted by a policy, then it is good. It is a theory that runs into trouble when you consider the possibly larger negative impact it has on the 25%. A lot of bad for few people versus a little bit of good for many. My answer has changed as I’ve grown. I no longer consider fruit by the food to be a good snack and I now consider Men in Black to be a good movie. The movie scared me when I was little, so I deemed it bad. Something that scares me today, I know to not necessarily be bad.
In this ever evolving world, it is no surprise to me that the idea of goodness comes up in the discussion of the maker movement. What concerns me with the discussion in Dougherty’s book is that goodness is continually tied to productivity. He talks of making itself as good and productive, without ever concretely defining what it would mean for the maker movement to do good. Instead, there are many anecdotes presented of makers who have conceivably done good in a variety of fields from medical to environmental to underserved communities. It is implied that each of these projects are good, but it does not specific in what way they are deemed good in the eyes of the maker movement. Is it because they made an environmental project more productive, because they helped poor communities, or because they simply recognized a phenomenon in medical spheres To end the chapter, he brings up the concept of caring. I am left wondering if he meant that all along – that the maker movement’s idea of good is if you care – or if he even knows.
Another thing I don’t fully understand is why you would start a book with a lie. This wasn’t some big reveal for me. Instead I felt like my entire reading of the book was skewed. If I had read it with the concept presented in the last chapter – that I need to make something today – I wonder if I would have understood the author better. There is a push here to integrate making into your life, but it is presented in a very absolute way that allows little wiggle room. It implies that not only do I have to make something this minute, but I also have to do it to live, be engaged, and possess a deep sense of purpose. I find absolute statements like these alienating. I agree that when it is something you are passionate about it fills your life in unexpected ways. However, the attempt to connect his views to the audience falls short. Instead of allowing people to come to these conclusions naturally on their own as they have integrated and experienced over time, he make is seem like you must do all this at once if you ever hope to have a full life. I would simply reserve that there are other options and different paths that would reach a similar place. It is ultimately the urgency that alienates.
What I want to discuss further is the idea that children are the future of the maker movement. First of all, some would argue that children are the future period. As a parent, you might want your child to be the future of medicine. Despite all your conviction, that child turns out to be a very gifted violinist and the future of the symphony. That is assuming that a single child can only be the future of a single thing. Could a child be a maker and also a senator or a environmentalist or all three?
Second, who is the author to decide that all children must become makers. For some reason, Dougherty’s slightly earlier discussion of moral imperative behind the maker movement does not sit well with me here. It occurs directly before his discussion of children and begs the question of are the two connected. Is he implying that it is a parents moral imperative as a maker to guide their children to be makers? At the heart of this objection is the fact that I believe children should be allowed to make their own decisions and take charge of their learning. If a child wants nothing to do with making, then the idea that someone must make that child a maker is a bit absurd.
Third, I am a proponent of making. I further believe that making has an integral place in the classroom. I also believe the same of play and informal learning opportunities. Making has great potential to unite students to whom science does not come naturally and vise versa. I do not think that the underpinnings of making are a fad. Anything that contributes to a desire for lifelong learning is wonderful. What I am unsure of (and goes back to my second point) is if the maker movement is a true movement or a fad. I do not mean a fad like glittery makeup, but like the other participatory cultures that have come and gone in the span of several decades.
If it is a lasting movement or a fad, the most important thing is that their be a choice. There should be no call to arms using absolute statements about what the collective we must do. There should be a presentation of facts and choice. Every individual should decide what makes their life full and be free to pursue it. Given that the pursuit doesn’t hurt the collective good of others or mess with another’s pursuit – read as follows laws and doesn’t hurt anyone. So when arguing for the maker movement, tell me why, rather than tell me I must.