March 20 | Critical Making: Putting the Critical back into Making

  • Ratto (2011) – Critical making: Conceptual and material studies in technology and social life. 
  • Wark (2013) – A more lovingly made world.
  • Pinto (2016) – Putting the critical back into maker spaces

This week’s readings discuss critical making. According to Ratto (2011), critical making is “a mode of materially productive engagement that is intended to bridge the gap between creative physical and conceptual exploration” (p. 252). Wark (2013) critiques “maker culture” through the New York City Maker Faire (p. 297). Pinto (2016) looks more in depth at maker spaces and the idea of production.

Ratto (2011) outlines 3 stages of critical making. Stage one involves researching, where relevant concepts and literature are reviewed and explored. Stage two involves designing, prototyping, and extending knowledge and skills through conceptual exploration. Stage three involves reconfiguration, conversation, reflection.

Key concepts that came up in all three readings were about Maker Faires and Maker Spaces. Wark (2013) explains, “it’s about an amateur culture and a teaching culture that nibbles the edges of a world that is made elsewhere. It’s supposedly good training for labour in the creative and technical industries. You play with the end products to figure out how to make better ‘user experiences’ of products” (p. 297). In referencing Repair Café Toronto, Pinto (2016) explains that people have lost the skill to repair things when something is broken. Instead of using problem-solving skills to repair something, it is often discarded. Pinto (2016) highlights that “Repair Café Toronto embodies the ethics of a sharing economy where people with repair skills are valued”.

Critical making can transform education when the “the teacher [invents] ways to engage students in the care of their own schools, neighbourhoods and towns” (Pinto, 2016, p. 38). Ultimately, if current education is to provide deep learning opportunities that are relevant and engaging for students, critical making must make up the fabric of our classrooms, schools, and movements such as maker spaces.



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