Putting the Critical (Back) into Maker Spaces

Critical Making Takes a Holiday

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Learning through Critical Making

Laura Elizabeth Pinto, University of Ontario Institute of Technology

Among educators today, ‘making’ has become a vogue term. The recent wave of makerspaces, however, has shifted away from the original maker movement’s roots. Rather than taking a stance against consumerism, making has emerged with a new purpose, as articulated by the Maker Education Initiative: ‘a strategy to engage youth in science, technology, engineering, math, arts, and learning as a whole’. So, instead of making as an interdisciplinary means of personal and community self-reliance, many newer projects see it as a way to engage students in subject-specific learning. In schools, maker kits and prepackaged a ‘maker curriculum’ are welcomed as part of this movement. This article explains what is lost when making is co-opted by consumer curricula and predetermined maker outcomes, and how we might put the critical (back) into maker spaces.

Supporting Texts & Resources:

  • Ratto, M. (2011). Critical making: Conceptual and material studies in technology and social life. The Information Society, 27(4), 252-260.
  • Wark, M. (2013). A more lovingly made world. Cultural Studies Review, 19(1), 296-304.
  • Pinto, L.E. (2016). Critical making takes a holiday. Philosophy of Education Society (PES) Annual Conference, March 18-21, 2016, Toronto Ontario. (Slide Deck Available in Downloads Area).
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