Lately, I’ve been drawn to the notion of the studio, the foundry, the (work)shop, the lab(oratory), the office, and the salon…in other words, I have a keen interest in spaces in which people routinely go to a) work, play, invent, theorize, tinker, build, deconstruct, practice, etc., and b) test a variety of different associations between humans and non-humans. One thing these spaces seem to have in common is that the notion of ‘success vs. failure’ is almost entirely unrecognizable and altogether unproductive. I fear that most contemporary science classrooms have too little in common with these types of generative spaces, but there are signs that such spaces are becoming increasingly popular–as one might have expected–outside of schooling.
- I find places such as Denmark’s MINDLABS, the Toronto-based INSTITUTE WITHOUT BOUNDARIES, Modernist Cuisine’s COOKING LAB, the elBulli Foundation’s EL BULLI LAB, the NORDIC FOOD LAB, Washington State University’s amazing BREAD LAB, the Cesar Harada-inspired MakerBay MakerSpace in Hong Kong, and the YouTube CREATOR SPACES (like this one is London) entirely refreshing and critically instructive for school-based educators.
- The MAKEY MAKEY & DRAWDIO invention (or maker) kits…these kits are about exploration, play, and testing the possibilities of creating/making new associations in, with, and through the world. Maker kits are part of a somewhat recent phenomenon that has been formally dubbed the “Maker culture” or “Maker movement.” When reframed by my own interests, such kits help me materialize a metaphor I like to draw upon when engaged in my own teaching and research: I receive great personal satisfaction from engaging in experimentation, that is, in testing new associations between a wide variety of things–both human and non-human–to see if, how well, and for whom/what they can successfully hold together. I see my experimentation as similar or related to what the Makers themselves often call “hacking the world.” The video below is a nice introduction to the Maker movement for those who are unfamiliar with it.