Twice a week I coach an Odyssey of the Mind team. All week I collect scraps, recyclables and cast away objects to bring to meetings for them to peruse. The process of searching through these materials inspires the gadgets they create, the props they invent, and costumes they fashion. Through the practice of re-purposing and upcycling, the team engineers through both limits and possibilities. The raw material is limited; what they would normally use to solve a problem is not always available.
In the Nairobi Fablab, I have personally seen that hands-on making is life-changing. However it can be difficult to measure impact and as such it is difficult to quantify the successes of the process. But I am particularly curious about the making in the context of the developing world. I feel the impact of the change effected by making is most significantly felt, and needed here. But then how do we ensure that making is exploited to its full potential?
Paulo Freire, in his book entitled The Pedagogy of the Oppressed, highlights the effects of oppression, based on his background and the challenges he faced in reconciling his Brazilian tradition and culture with the new educational environment brought about by colonization. This brings into the limelight two clear ideas: the loss of identity and humanity resulting from oppression; and the concept of the oppressor versus the oppressed. What results is violence, brought about by the oppressor who dehumanizes the oppressed by denying them their rights.