Two years ago, Dr. Leah Buechley delivered a stunning address at Stanford University’s 2013 FabLearn Conference. In her speech, Dr. Buechley challenged MakerEd.org’s slogan, “Every Child a Maker,” in light of the lack of diversity displayed by a commercial entity often associated with its activities, Maker Media. (Note: The non-profit advocacy group, MakerEd.org and the company, Maker Media, share a founder and similar names, but are indeed separate entities regardless of any confusion in the marketplace.)
Dr. Buechley shared stunning statistics on the lack of diversity represented on the cover of Make Magazine (the flagship of the enterprise), the lack of editorial diversity in Make, and the cost of the most popular kits sold by MakerShed, the retail arm of Maker Media.
I highly recommend that you take some time to watch Dr. Buechley’s Stanford Talk.
These are not the words of a cranky critic. Leah Buechley is one of the mother’s of the maker movement (small m). She urged those with enormous capital, influence, and connections to take their mission of “Every Child a Maker” more seriously. A change in behavior needed to accompany this rhetoric in order to truly make the world a better place. Maker Media and its subsidiaries have gained access to The White House, departments of education, and policy-making discussions. With such access comes great responsibility. Every educator and parent has seen the pain inflicted on public education by corporations and other rich white men who view the public schools as their personal plaything.
Earlier this week, I wrote the article, Criminalizing Show & Tell, to tell the outrageous tale of a 9th grade young man who was arrested, cuffed, detained, and suspended from school for bringing his invention to class. He hoped his creativity would gain him support in a school culture hostile to his complexion, name and religious beliefs. In my article, I addressed the steps that must be taken to correct this abuse of power, deprivation of rights, and violation of sound education principles.
Since then, Ahmed Mohammed has become the cause célèbre of the Internet. Why, he got tweeted by @potus AND got his very own hashtag, #istandwithAhmed. What Ahmed has NOT received is an apology from the school district that brutalized him or the police force that wrongfully arrested him. In fact, the school district continued their victim-blaming in a letter to parents and the Irving, Texas police chief thinks that his force handled everything perfectly as well.
But hey, he got a #hashtag! Case closed, right?
I don’t think so.
This morning I awoke to this tone-deaf email from Makershed announcing their Stand with Ahmed clock kit sale. Worst of all, only 3 of the 12 clocks are actually on-sale.
If tasteless isn’t your style, how about sweet?
My social media stream is full of postings like this one.
Hooray! Ahmed is getting lots of presents. Who doesn’t like presents?
A few pesky questions remain:
- Who will buy all the plane tickets Ahmed and his parents need to meet the folks wishing to pose for photos with him?
- Will his school punish him for missing class?
Oh, that’s right. He doesn’t have class because:
- Ahmed was suspended for not bringing a bomb to school.
- The intolerant culture of his school is forcing him to change high schools.
Neither social justice or the right to a high-quality public school education free of brutality and intolerance can be exchanged for exciting cash and prizes.
Ahmed’s growing gift bag of goodies will do nothing to cleanse the Irving, Texas schools and community of its toxicity, xenophobia, Islamophobia, or racism. The misbehaving adults will not have their behaviors addressed.
Where does a fourteen year-old boy go to get his childhood back?
Veteran teacher educator, journalist, and speaker Gary S. Stager, Ph.D. is the co-author of Invent to Learn – Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom, called “the bible of the maker movement in schools” by the San Jose Mercury News.
Constructing Modern Knowledge 2012 celebrates computing, creativity and children by adding blog, YouTube and MakerFaire sensation, Super Awesome Sylvia as a guest speaker and faculty member at CMK 2012, July 9-12, 2012 in Manchester, New Hampshire.
Sylvia’s enthusiasm, curiosity, ingenuity and passion have inspired hundreds of thousands of children and adults to tinker with cutting-edge technology. Her videos share wisdom and whimsical ideas for projects. This pint-sized pedagogue also teachers viewers about art, science, engineering and technology with remarkable clarity.
It will be super awesome to have Super Awesome Sylvia as a co-learner at CMK 2012! I can’t wait to see what we make together!
- Super Awesome Sylvia’s web site
- Gary Stager’s article, Super-Awesome Sylvia in the Not So Awesome Land of Schooling
- Constructing Modern Knowledge’s amazing guest speakers and faculty
- One of Sylvia’s recent instructional videos (below)
- Award-winning filmmaker and star of the HBO series, The Neistat Brothers, Casey Neistat
- MIT Media Lab Assistant Professor and inventor of the Lilypad Arduino wearable computer, Dr. Leah Beuchley
- Mark Frauenfelder, Editor-in-Chief of Make Magazine, co-founder of BoingBoing.net and author of Made By Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World.
Mark Frauenfelder is a writer and illustrator living in Los Angeles. He is Editor-in-Chief of MAKE Magazine, the cofounder of the popular Boing Boing weblog and was an editor at Wired from 1993-1998. He is the author of terrific books, including: Rule the Web: How to Do Anything and Everything on the Internet—Better, Faster, Easier, The Happy Mutant Handbook, Mad Professor: Concoct Extremely Weird Science Projects and his latest, Made By Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World. Mark Frauenfelder is at the vanguard of the exploding world of DIY and tinkering. He brings a wealth of expertise as an artist, Web pioneer, author, publisher and parent. Check out the following videos to learn more about his work and the expertise he brings to Constructing Modern Knowledge.
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