Repair and The Maker Movement in Schools

 

Summary:

Integrating Repair into Maker programs enriches learning in multiple ways:

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

  • Because broken objects present students with additional limitations and problems, Repair further challenges the technical skills and design thinking students learn 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 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.

  • 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.

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 things:

  • Supports transforming conceptual understanding into experiential understanding;

  • Compels (unwitting) practice; and

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

3)  Repair Strengthens the Rationale for Establishing and Integrating Making into the Schools

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' larger programs.
 

4)  Thinking / Skills

Repair calls on most if not all of the skills and thinking processes emphasized in the Maker educational initiatives currently being established in schools.  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