A number of our presenters at Maker Faire Bay Area have published books recently. They offer new ways of thinking about technology, education, creativity, science and maker culture. Maker Faire is fun, colorful and interactive. Yet, as these presenters and their books demonstrate, there is a quiet subversive streak that runs through Maker Faire, making an appeal that we should not be willing to accept things the way they are, and stirring the desire to create meaningful change.
Lifelong Kindergarten: Cultivating Creativity through Projects, Passion, Peers, and Play
Talk: Scratch: Kids, Coding, and Creativity
Mitch Resnick leads the Lifelong Kindergarten group at MIT Media Lab, where SCRATCH was developed, a popular programming environment for children. Resnick’s insights into learning and technology, driven by 30 years of work in these fields with legends such as Seymour Papert, support the learning experiences promoted by maker education. Resnick argues that instead of kindergarten becoming more like school, that: the rest of school (even the rest of life) should be more like kindergarten.
“In my research group at MIT, we’ve developed a set of four guiding principles for helping young people develop as creative thinkers: projects, passion, peers and play. In short, the best way to cultivate creativity is to support people working on projects based on their passions, in collaboration with peers and in a playful spirit.”
How to Be a Craftivist: The Art of Gentle Protest
How to Be a Craftivist is a manifesto for quiet activism: using the process of “making” to engage thoughtfully in the issues we are about, to influence and effect change. UK-based Sarah Corbett shares her journey from burnt-out activist, tired of marching, confrontation and demonizing opposition, towards a more respectful activism: using craft to contemplate global issues and start conversations rather than arguments; to engage, empower, and encourage people to become part of change in the face of injustice.
“If we want our world to be more beautiful, kind and just, then let’s make our activism beautiful, kind and just.”
What School Could Be: Insights and Inspiration from Teachers Across America
The executive producer of the acclaimed documentary “Most Likely to Succeed,” Ted Dintersmith is a former venture capitalist who has become an advocate for change in education. He visited all fifty states in a single school year. All across the country, he met teachers in ordinary settings doing extraordinary things, creating innovative classrooms where children learn deeply and joyously as they gain purpose, agency, essential skillsets and mindsets, and real knowledge.
“We’ll face findings you may find implausible, even preposterous, including:
- Today, the purpose of U.S. education is to rank human potential, not to develop it.
- “College ready” impedes learning and innovation in our K-12 schools.
- All students would benefit from considerably more hands-on learning.
- We’re trying to close the wrong achievement gap.
- We can make education better and more equitable by challenging students with real-world problems.”
WTF? What’s the Future and Why It’s Up To Us
Friday, 12:30 pm (Part of Industry, College and Career Day)
Tim O’Reilly, whose company gave birth to Make and Maker Faire, warns that “we are heading towards a world shaped by technology in ways that we don’t understand and have many reasons to fear.” His books asks us not to accept the inevitability of any future, but in particular, one driven by technology. O’Reilly insists that we make choices today that will result in the world we want to live in — and our children to live in. He talks about how we can make change, and looks at the people who have learned to do that.
“Work on something that matters to you more than money.
Remember that financial success is not the only goal or the only measurement of achievement. It’s easy to get caught up in the heady buzz of making money. You should regard money as fuel for what you really want to do, not as a goal in and of itself.
Money is like gas in the car — you need to pay attention or you’ll end up on the side of the road — but a successful business or a well-lived life is not a tour of gas stations.
Pursue something so important that even if you fail, the world is better off for you having tried.”
The Dialogues: Conversations about the Nature of the Universe
Clifford V. Johnson, a professor of physics at USC, wrote and drew a new kind of science book: a non-fiction graphic novel featuring conversations about the nature of the universe, with many fascinating aspects of physics like black holes, time, the big bang, even cooking. He’ll talk about why he made this book, and how.
Johnson thinks that we should have more conversations about science. Science should be on our daily conversation menu, along with topics like politics, books, sports, or the latest prestige cable drama. Conversations about science, he tells us, shouldn’t be left to the experts. And so here’s some good conversations about the nature of the universe, what we know and what we don’t.
This is a book that has its own trailer: