Accepted paper:

Crafting education: professionalization of makers in a collaboration with schools


Florian Tichy (Technical University of Munich)

Paper short abstract:

This paper follows a collaboration between a FabLab and several schools. In the process the makers become professional educators, but also somewhat independent from the community of the lab. Making here becomes care work in education practices, raising tensions with the FabLab.

Paper long abstract:

In this research I have explored an engagement of the maker movement with the education of children in the use of tools and techniques of crafting and making. Instead of the more common format of workshops, I focused on a cooperation between a FabLab and several elementary and high schools, which implements making education as an elective subject in the schools' regular schedules. To trace this institutionalization, I follow makers in their education practices through ethnographic fieldwork and interviews. As they become full-time educators in the process and negotiate professionalization, the makers I accompany abandon other making projects. However, making stays relevant to the educators as a concept to term an aspect of education that they perceive as otherwise neglected under the conditions of the current school system in Bavaria. I argue that the makers perceive their practice as repair work on education, which becomes a matter of care to them (Puig de la Bellacasa 2010). This form of care work differs from teacher's pedagogical care insofar as it tries to address the children in less hierarchical and more affective, collaborative and material ways. In my presentation I show boundary work of what is regarded as proper education. Making thereby becomes an emphatic concept for care in education, while the FabLab deals with tensions over the relation between making and education in general. Overall, I suggest that this case shows the open lab as a site to retain care outsourced by a more rigid organization in schools.

panel B06
Collaboration in/with "open labs": studying the objects of boundary-making and crossing