Making – using hands and the mind

This video shows Tye making his ‘Fat Pants’ which he needs to ‘Shuffle’ which is his favourite dance style. Notice the valuable learning that is taking place here. What you haven’t seen is the researching, planning, designing, shopping etc etc.

Here learnt to shuffle by watching YouTube videos and then practising every chance he could. His mentor here is Judy who provided her sewing machine and helped him to design and sew the pants.

To witness Tye’s engagement/learning and how proud he was of the end result was a joy to behold.

Here is a great article on the value of ‘making’.

This excerpt from “Making their Way: Creating a new generation of Thinkerers” – Elliot Washor and Charles Mojkowski.

Makers of all ages understand early on in their making how hard it is to do something well. They understand that excellence is a moving target. They will spend hours learning things that they want to learn, be that from books, the Internet, by asking other people sharing the same interest, or just by trial and error. And through these means, makers continue to perfect their skills. Unfortunately, our schools ignore this understanding and choose breadth over depth, efficiency over exploration, and acceleration over patience and persistence. Thackera (2005) reminds us that nature does not work on the principle that fast is better; slowness is fundamental to quality.

So, what does this mean for schools? We think, a lot.

Making is a celebration of an alternative and powerful way of knowing and of thinking things through. Consequently, making is typically antithetical to what traditional schools are all about. That is why the communities of practice that come together at Maker Faires and fab labs usually— some would say thankfully—flourish outside of schools.

A few educators, however, are circling these making places to determine where and how they may fit into schools, if at all. The late educational historian Lawrence Cremin once wryly noted that educators respond to a new area of learning by creating a course in it. Recall how schools responded to technology by creating a course “down the hall at fifth period” without ever thinking about changing every course because technology existed. Similarly, educators run the risk ofdemeaning hand and mind work by creating separate courses for making rather than bringing making into all aspects of the school curriculum and thereby thoroughly reconstituting it.

In making, the gap between the learner’s performance and aspirations is so much more concrete and tangible, very unlike the gap between a letter grade of A or B. The tacit and the explicit come together. The skills involve the body as well as the mind, the hand as well as the heart. The 4-H Club has it right: head, hand, heart, and health together (4-H, 2009).

The making and the maker are linked in ways that traditional learning opportunities and environments cannot provide. The maker/learner and the object are joined. This is very much unlike what happens in schools when students, consciously or unconsciously, decide that what the school is teaching them has nothing to do with them and, indeed, is not them.

Making and hand-mind learning should not be confused with ! traditional career and technical education. Many students are not interested in earning certificates or credentials in a technical area. Instead, we are advocating for in-mind learning throughout all students’ programs of study.

We can only speculate about where all of this might lead. Certainly, however, there will be increased opportunities for students to develop very valuable skills outside of school, to have those skills validated through certificates, credentials, and endorsements that are respected in the workplace and in selected postsecondary learning institutions. It is possible that educators will see these non-school settings as places in which they can bring the most valuable aspects of the traditional disciplines, particularly the discipline-based skills and conceptual understandings.

See also Maker Faires which are a celebration of working with your hands and minds.


One thought on “Making – using hands and the mind

  1. Geoff
    I’m reminded by that Thackera quote of the old tradie’s principle – you can have it quick, you can have it cheap, you can have it well made – just pick any two. It’s a little equation that holds up remarkably well.
    Nice post

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