Repair and The Maker Movement in Schools


  • Enriches Maker curricula;

  • Lends traction to classroom work;

  • Strengthens the rationale for establishing Maker initiatives in the schools; and

  • Promotes and facilitates learning skills and concepts.

Integrating Repair into Maker programs enriches learning in multiple ways:

  • The problem-solving, skills, and knowledge required by Repair are deeply resonant with Making.

  • Broken objects present students with discrete and compromised materials and/or function, limitations and problems incremental to Making from scratch. Repair thereby further challenges the problem-solving, technical skills, resourcefulness, and design thinking students develop in Making.

  • Repair brings the environment / sustainability squarely into designing and Making.

  • Repair brings critical thinking about social systems into Making. A question Repair confronts the student with is: What were the interests that drove the design and fabrication of this broken item?

More on that:

1)  Repair Facilitates and Enriches an Understanding of Systems and Design

Students’ personal involvement with their things enables them to see design and systems more clearly:

  • A student acquired an item to serve a purpose.

  • It fulfilled the need.

  • It broke – easily, inexplicably.

  • It no longer serves its purpose.

  • The item must be replaced.

  • What were the concerns that informed its design? Are they consistent with the student's interests?

The student’s personal stake in the item highlights the design concerns informing the item's manufacture.  Systems and design are no longer conceptual, classroom topics. The student is personally involved and has a stake in the situation and its resolution.

Systems highlighted and topics introduced:

  • Economic systems - linear economy and circular economy

  • Economic systems - globally integrated capitalism and the role of consumption

  • Social systems - agency, community building and social justice

  • Environmental systems - ecology

  • Physiological systems - inseparability of motor, cognitive, sensory and psychological experience

  • Political systems - regulation and transnational corporations

2)  Repair Lends Traction to Classroom Lessons

Students’ personal involvement with their broken things:

  • Supports transforming conceptual understanding into experiential understanding;

  • Compels practice of classroom learning - the student’s stake in outcome motivates, not teacher direction; and

  • Takes practice into students’ lives, beyond classroom support.

3)  Repair Strengthens the Rationale for Establishing and Integrating Making into the Schools: “Sustainability”

Energy and momentum around establishing sustainability initiatives in the schools are on the rise.

Repair squarely addresses environmental issues:  The greatest impact every single person can make on the environment is to extend the life of the things they have.  Repair is fundamental to Reuse.

Incorporating Repair into the Maker curriculum puts the energy related to sustainability behind establishing Maker initiatives in schools and integrating Making into schools' basic curriculum.

4)  Thinking / Skills

Repair calls on most if not all of the skills and thinking processes emphasized in most current Maker educational initiatives. Importantly, Repair takes them a step further by virtue of the incremental challenges of working within the tight limitations of compromised materials and functionality, and preexisting structure.

Finally, the relationship students have with their things lends potency and immediacy to Making, by way of Repair.

  • Understanding materials and functionality

  • Understanding systems

  • Understanding design

  • Problem-solving

  • Hands-on implementation