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Let's make sure our children embrace the new maker culture
Posted by 3DP4E

By Roy Kaidar | Inside 3DP

Are we really preparing our kids for the future? Do we help them develop the kind of skills needed to cope with what lies ahead?

When I was school I was told that my education will prepare me for the challenges of the real world, and that the better I would do in school, the better prepared I would be.

Turns out, this is only partly true. Education does prepare you for real life, but I’m afraid my school years had little to do with it.

My teachers weren’t at fault. They did their utmost to provide us with values, knowledge, and skills reflecting what the system thought would be necessary for our future. Overall, I want to believe that they did a fair job, but there was one skill that was largely ignored.

It was important then, and it is crucial now. It is the skill of making.

Without this skill, kids will struggle to keep up with future advancements and will soon find themselves lagging behind professionally and, over time, economically. This skill relates to the pace of learning: the ability to learn more and better in a shorter period of time.

Change: Learn, Adapt And Evolve Or Be Left Behind

The world in which we are living today is much different than the one when I was in school. Technological advancement and the abundance of internet-mediated information have accelerated the pace of change dramatically. What used to take years can now take days or even hours. If someone takes a year-long vacation and doesn’t stay up-to-date, when that person comes back s/he will not only be surprised at how much has changed, but there is a fair chance that s/he won’t even recognize some of the language people are using to describe technological progress.

The main consequence of this phenomenon is the mounting pressure on all of us to learn and adapt at a greater pace. In other words, it is not about what we know, but rather how fast can we learn new knowledge and adapt by adopting new patterns of behavior to cope with new challenges. We should not underestimate this; it’s not a privilege, but rather a necessity. Our ability to stay in the game depends on this skill.

This is where the maker movement comes into play. Makers are individuals who can use technology, access to knowledge, social networks, and their own brains to make things. To create and innovate. We have witnessed the movement of makers grow dramatically in the last few years. Using digital manufacturing in the form of 3D printing, laser cutters, CNC, and more, people can rapidly prototype products, limited mostly be their imaginations. Coupled with unlimited access to the internet and an ‘open-source’ approach that make knowledge and expertise unprecedentedly accessible, today there is fertile grounds for makers to prosper.

There are millions of makers in the U.S. alone and the numbers are growing exponentially.

Makers today are at the forefront of advancement because they possess the skill of fast learning and adaptation. They are able to quickly move to new areas, study them, and connect them with other fields of knowledge. They are not intimidated by new things, but rather inspired by them. They are curious and flexible. They are early adopters and this is what gives them the edge in today’s world.

What do makers have to do with education? Are makers’ skills derived from nature or from nurture? Or in other words: Can we teach kids to be more like makers? My answer to these questions would be: Yes we can!

Create a culture of making

Based on our experience, for maker culture to thrive we need the combination of access to the internet, proper tools, and initial basic training. While the essential need for access to the internet is already trivial, today also tools are more accessible than ever. Most popular is the 3D printer. With quality of desktop 3D printers increasing and prices going down, 3D printers are now considered an anchor tool for any maker.

I will take the risk and predict that the day is not far in which we are going to see a 3D printer in almost every school. Alongside we can find a variety of additional tools and parts used by makers such as laser cutters, CNC, Arduino, Raspberry pie, and more. All of them are cheaper and easier to use than in the past.

What is left is providing initial basic training to enable kids to be able to enter the world of making. Kids need to acquire some knowledge in computing, designing, searching the Web, electronics, and more. The idea is not to teach kids the language of making, but rather the letters from which the language is made.

The kids will, by themselves, know best how to turn these letters into words and sentences. One can be assured that, given the pace of change, those words and sentences will be different tomorrow than they are today.


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