Sunday, February 08, 2015

enable, ennoble...

Parts printed and assembled for talon hand
These are two simple words separated in meaning by a single vowel sound and with the addition of an extra "n."

Enable: early 15c., "to make fit;" mid-15c., "to make able to," from en- (1) "make, put in" + able. Related: Enabled; enabling. An enabling act (1684) is so called because it empowers a body or person to take certain action.

Ennoble: late 15c., "refine, impart a higher character to" (implied in ennobled), from Middle French ennoblir; see en- (1) + noble (adj.). Sense of "give noble rank to" is from 1590s. Related: Ennobler; ennobling.

These two words can be closely tied in education when projects are chosen to both elevate student learning and responsibility. One has to do with ability, and the other has to do with purpose.

I have printed my first hand as an experiment with the school's MakerBot, and now the question becomes that of student engagement. How are they to be engaged in this process. If they are bystanders as the machine does its work, that fails to meet my own objectives. If they are simply assembling parts from a machine, we must wonder what real preparation for the future there is in that. In addition, I have serious concerns about using the misfortunes of others to gain attention for ourselves. So, the question becomes, can we make a useful enough hand to be of real service? And will the students insist that we do so?

The first step will be to ask my students of their own interests, not to demand that they pay attention to mine. In schooling we play two games, black and white... with one being what adults demand of student learning, and the other being what students are ennobled to ask of themselves.

The hand shown above resembles a skeletal form. It is only a first step.

Make, fix and create...

1 comment:

  1. Hi Doug,
    Congratulations on your new shop hand and new opportunities for student involvement. Looking forward to reading about their ideas as to how to make the hand useful, and in a larger sense, how to make the printer useful...and, ultimately, become useful to themselves and to their community. Who will develop controls for the hand to turn it into a jig or fixture? Who will do the programming? Who will solder the circuits? Who will go off into uncharted waters with the printer? How many will, in their own eyes, become moe capable, more competent, more joyful? Sounds like a great, new ride for you, too!