Saturday, January 3, 2015

Maker Movement Manifesto

I just finished reading The Maker Movement Manifesto by Mark Hatch (thanks Kevin). In addition to being the CEO of TechShop, he's got quite the resume. MBA for starters, former director of global technology at Avery Dennison, former director of computer services at Kinko, and a former Green Beret. With a background like that, I figured what he had to say would be definitely worth reading and I wasn't disappointed. But I've been a fan of the maker movement ever since I became aware of it several years back, so I was pretty much hooked going in.

The Maker Movement Manifesto is broken down into these parts: Make, Share, Give, Learn, Tool Up, Play, Participate, Support, Change.

Several of these really struck a chord with me:

"Making is fundamental to what it means to be human. We must make, create, and express ourselves to feel whole." As a shop teacher I spent my whole career training people to have the skills so they could make things. A big part of my teaching philosophy was to have the students make projects. Nothing really unique to me, standard old school shop practice going way back to Sloyd and Manual Training. What's interesting is, while the Maker Movement was coming into being, shop classes were being closed. Rather than incorporating the new high tech computer driven machinery into existing programs, they shut the traditional programs down and decided we all needed to go to college and become engineers or scientists. In the Maker Movement innovation is not driven by the engineers and scientists. It's folks like you and me. The kinds of people who like to use their brains and work with their hands. They just never had an outlet for their creativity before.

"You must learn to make. You must always seek to learn more about your making. You may become a journeyman or master craftsman, but you will still learn, want to learn, and push yourself to learn new techniques, materials, and processes. Building a lifelong learning path ensures a rich and rewarding making life and, importantly, enables one to share." That's me right there. I consider myself a master craftsman but I still want to learn new techniques, materials, and processes. It's just hard to do without access to the tools and the community.

"You must have access to the right tools for the project at hand. Invest in and develop local access to the tools you need to do the making you want to do. The tools of making have never been cheaper, easier to use, or more powerful." Not just me - having access to the tools is part of the Manifesto. I've definitely invested in tools over the years. If you've been reading here for any length of time, you know I've got a pretty well equipped maker space. However, it's all old school equipment. The only thing I have in the shop with a transistor or a chip is my radio. Not that that's all bad. It just limits my ability to work with new processes and materials.

They are going to be adding machining to the course offerings at the college soon. They will be getting both manual and CNC equipment of some sort but I'm not sure what. I don't know what the politics are in a state community college system but if I were in charge I'd be looking into converting the lab where I work into some type of maker space right about now. I've mentioned before that nothing is made at the college. Not only is there the community college but there is also a private university, several high tech manufacturing businesses and a progressive vibe around much of the area. Seems like the area could support a TechShop/maker space of some sort while fulfilling the traditional role of the community college. Seems also like the people in charge of education are always behind the curve rather than taking a leadership role and being out in front. If you accept that we all must learn and make, then the decision to fund areas to do just that should be a foregone conclusion. The question then becomes how to best meet the needs of the students and the community.

The Maker Movement Manifesto is a good overview on the Maker Movement - where it started, where it is now and where it's headed. For a guy like me, it's good to see all the exciting things that are occurring. From my viewpoint, this is what education should look like rather than the traditional path. Go to the work space, take classes, pursue your ideas/dreams. If you fail, you fail fast and the cost of failure is merely part of your education, not a major setback. You're surrounded with a bunch of like minded individuals opening the way for cross-pollination of ideas and a support group of experts if needed. I just wish there was one close by.


Frankie Flood said...

Great post!

Shop Teacher Bob said...

Thanks. It's an exciting time for making things. As I've said before, I'm amazed at the projects you and your students are turning out. I look at what's going on there and in places like the TechShop and I think the air must just be crackling with all the creative energy - wish I could be a part of it all.