Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Makers & Artisans Explode, So How About We Teach Our Youth?

It's all the rage. DIY in-house tinkering and crafting and building and making. We are, at our most primitive, innovators as humans. We find ways to improve our quality of life as often as we can or need to our of necessity. So it should come as no surprise we have identified this skill set as a proposed profession as well. While, I admit, the two are not necessarily an apples-to-apples match, they are both born out of our curiosity, will, and desire to live better. The 'Maker' movement, the 'Artisan' movement, etc. are the new terms we use for an always developing group of individuals, etc. that are spawning nationwide, and worldwide for that matter, dedicated to learning, practicing, and perfecting a craft. Every day as I walk downtown, read the paper (yes, I am old school,) or see a tweet regarding a new Maker or Artisan or Crafty-person I am reminded that we are, at the essence of our being, people that love to explore new horizons. I sincerely wish our educational system were supportive of this, rather than the K-12 institutional complex of standardized testing and trail leading to nausea-inducing Scantrons filled with #2 pencil rectangular shapes. I believe we should develop each Maker from childhood, giving each of us an introduction to our own hands-on abilities and creative instincts. This does not mean we create a society of small batch artisan crafty heads - it means we allow some instinctual capabilities to resonate internally, and somewhere along the way each child develops their own identity with what they are comfortable with, and allow them to excel if that is a path they feel good about. Why do we not teach arts and crafts? Why do we focus on STEM? Ingenuity and innovation are not limited to scientific applications, rather, I would argue they are uniquely attached to each other in advancing one another, both in the equipment and the mindset. Perhaps, this newly named movement will refocus our educational efforts and realize the value in continuing arts, trades, and skilled craftsman that may or may not need an educational path through traditional 4 year institutions. Where are the apprenticeship programs that are available to all? They rarely exist today, and that is a shame. Time to shift the mentality in this country and get away from such narrowly focused attention to mandated testing criteria.

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