by Zef Neemuchwala

A father's story of making

It seems appropriate to launch our first blog post on Father’s Day. Be A Maker Club started as a result of helping my 8-year-old daughter learn to make from her own ideas. This idea of her maintaining agency over the making process, seemed to me to be the most important achievement for me. After teaching design to adult students at the University of Leeds, I realized although there are various parts to creating a design, having agency over the process so that it is true to your own idea is what truly makes it an incredible experience.

I was determined from the very beginning to help facilitate the journey of a maker, not teach them the right way to make. I can teach the craft of making and let them experience the art of making but it would truly be an achievement if they could maintain their enthusiasm through that process.

In this talk by Sir Ken Robinson, I learned how we are teaching the genius out of our children with education. We all have the genius capacity of divergent thinking, and it mostly deteriorates, and I wanted to build a system that keeps this alive.

The next thing I asked myself was – can someone with just an idea, but no technical knowledge of computer aided design and manufacturing, make something? I found the answer in Dr. Sugata Mitra’s Hole in the Wall experiments in self-teaching. He showed how groups of unsupervised children can use the internet to learn anything by themselves.

Finally, I wondered if this was a parenting exercise for me or will this lead to a skill or ability that children can use in the future? This question was answered by Sal Khan of Khan Academy who talked about how we have exited the industrial age and are now in the information age where many tasks that were considered manual, skilled and even intellectual labor will be automated. We are now developing a large creative class, where almost everyone can participate as an entrepreneur, an artist, or a researcher. This can be done if we let people master concepts by being able to exercise agency over their learning.

So, there you have it. The founding story of Be A Maker Club, where anyone can make.