Innovation to What End?

Makerspaces as Sites for Science Education

In: Critical Issues and Bold Visions for Science Education
Author: Michael Tan

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Abstract

Makerspaces have risen in prominence in the recent five years as sites for the acquisition of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) competencies. Often spoken in the same breath is the supposed ability of STEM and associated practices to ‘change the world’, in deliberately disruptive ways, and to euphemistically ‘drive the economy’ while at it. In this chapter, I argue for a closer examination of the teleological aims of science education, specifically in the light of recurrent movements since at least the 1960s to closely tie education to specific societal goals. Such approaches rely heavily on technocratic rationalities which fundamentally misunderstand the nature of innovation, learning, and human (and non-human) agency. I use considerations of creative problem solving in design, the nature of abductive reasoning practices in science, and Andrew Pickering’s Mangle of Practice as lenses to develop a curriculum argument for science education generally speaking, and in makerspace activity in particular. In essence, I advocate a transdisciplinary approach to instruction, and a greater embrace of the literal and metaphorical messiness of learning and becoming.