This article’s title attracted my eye. It came to me via a facebook entry from Montreal Mini Maker Faire. It is not an article about MAKING per se but there is a correlation. Need a Job? Invent It was written by Thomas L. Friedman for The New York Times Sunday Review. It focuses on what Tony Wagner, a Harvard education specialist has to say in his book “Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World”. The part that struck me was his response to Mr. Friedman in an email. He wrote; “Today, because knowledge is available on every Internet-connected device, what you know matters far less than what you can do with what you know. The capacity to innovate — the ability to solve problems creatively or bring new possibilities to life — and skills like critical thinking, communication and collaboration are far more important than academic knowledge. As one executive told me, ‘We can teach new hires the content, and we will have to because it continues to change, but we can’t teach them how to think — to ask the right questions — and to take initiative.’ ”
When I was researching for the Working Hands Project I was asking people about the value of industrial arts classes in school curriculums. What seemed to come through is there were many benefits; comfort working with objects and tools, problem solving skills, imagination, stick-to-itiveness, cooperation, appreciation of materials, courage to try something different and dealing with failure. Curious that there seems to be a correlation with what is talked about in Mr. Wagner’s book.
Classes like these have unfortunately been taken out of most school. One of the encouraging signs is that they are coming back to some degree. They call them Maker Spaces now and are integrating with the digital world through now affordable devices like 3D printers, laser cutters and CNC machines. There is also some effort in having hands-on education in regular classes for those kinesthetic learners. Want to know more? You could check out the Maker Education Initiative, The Crucible, RAFT, North Bennet St. School and in Canada Maker Kids is a mainly afterschool program that enables kids to build their ideas with real tools and materials.