We are all natural makers.
Everyone remembers the thrill and awkwardness of manoeuvring a screw driver, hammering our first nail, turning flour, eggs and sugar into cake. But in recent years, consumption has taken precedence for many of us. We buy ready-made goods, forgetting how to make, and why to repair.
Our leisure activities have gone passive. We watch films made by artists, play video games designed by techies, and eat out at restaurants where professionals have cooked for us. Even practical activities for building have turned into an process of assembly, with DIY projects prescribing instructions leaving little to no inventive outlet. The fact of the matter is, we all need to create. And as creativity turns into a practice, we naturally begin to design, trial, change directions, iterate, improve and innovate.
Today the Maker movement is exploding. A product of the ease of access of information, tools, and technology, and most importantly the ingenuity and community of our peers. Makers redefine and claim new and old materials for their own purposes. They want the power and the amplification that the digital technologies offer.
We see this stirring up the way we think about learning and education.
"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire."
William Butler Yeats
For too long, the young and capable have been reduced to consumers of knowledge. Much of education today is built on leveling out the peaks and valleys of different students in order to teach the class as a group. Students "fill their buckets" with facts that they'll need to pass their GCSEs and A-levels. How much of their day is spent sitting passively as teachers explain what they need to know, reading out of books and completing exercises? (And how much of their day is spent wishing they were somewhere else)?!
In Making, the goal is to invite ownership of the successes and frustrations when bringing projects from idea to reality -- teaching so much more than facts. Young Makers learn resilience and adaptability as they design, debug, cope with glitches, and build. That experience of stepping back to change direction or start again, when something doesn't work as planned, is a critical life skill in a world where everything is changing so rapidly. Young Makers learn to learn.
There's a revolution a-foot. Makers and the making community are now able - affordably - to design and prototype physical goods and ideas in new ways. Arduinos, Raspberry Pis, Technology Will Save Us kits, and your basic electronic sensors and components can be combined in ways limited only by the Maker's imagination. Amateurs, experts, the young and mature can imagine and invent all kinds of networked information and media outputs, even integrating bluetooth or wifi communication to make their lives more connected. You, personally, can build ways to connect to what's important to you - feeding your cat from on holiday, or flashing a wearable when someone mentions you on Instagram. What the web did to commerce, these new technologies do to physical objects - connecting them at scale to each other, big data, and to us.
There is a real thrill in seeing something you imagined come to life, and that creates its own curiosity momentum. Young people today have access to all the tools and the skills to get started, get their hands dirty, break a few things, fix glitches, connect their world and Make the Future.
So, as we say, Make on!