Monday, September 06, 2010

Making a generation of "thinkerers"

Elliot Washor has an article in the Huffington Post on Creating a Generation of Thinkerers. And it makes me wonder why all children are not engaged in making. Shame on us.

Elliot's article is a thoughtful review of our meeting at Dearborn, Michigan centered around the Maker Faire and the Henry Ford Museum.

From Elliot's report:
Educational historian Larry 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 of demeaning 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.
And of course the answer is NOT to make making a separate course, but the bring the arts into every classroom and every discipline as a means of assessment. Here is some startling stuff from Elliot's article:
We reviewed disturbing data on how young people spend their time. We learned, for example, that they use the Internet about 12 hours a week, more time than they spend watching television (about 10 hours per week), talking on a cell phone (13 hours per week), and doing homework (9 hours per week).

The research reveals that the U.S. is becoming a nation of "non-tinkerers." In a poll of 1,000 U.S. adults, nearly six in 10 (58%) said they never have made or built a toy. More than a quarter (27%) have not made or built even one item from a list of eight common projects ranging from a dollhouse or piece of furniture to a fence or flower box.
When we introduced ourselves in Dearborn, we were asked to tell about something we had made. I told that I get to make things every day and every week, but that if it were not for woodshop at Clear Spring School, some of our kids would not have ever had the opportunity.

Happy Labor Day, to my readers. Labor once meant something more. Not only drugery, but problem solving, not just the opposed forcesof labor and management, but skill and pride of workmanship as this article sent by Will Simpson affirms. Whatever Happened to Labor?

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