|Research Wiki | Get Involved | About Us | Contact|
Demotech research wiki: Design / D11JuliaInternship
It is just a few days ago that I left Maastricht and stills it is not the end of my internship at Demotech. The three weeks I have been there were realy to short time to understand this organisation, the man behind it, developing a project, do everyday side-jobs and learning practical skills for myself and my studies. Well that is what I, what we probably all thought in the beginning, than after working everyday (well nearly) for hours and hours at the spot, going through many disappointments and being confronted with a number of communicational and mental obstacles, needing to understand many new concepts, working closely together with very interesting people, I finally reached a point of being able to open for other concepts and thinking patterns.
About the value of hands-on work
What is the reason this wrong picture is commonly regarded as true? Whe does profit from this way of thinking? Julia, can you comment on this issue?
During my internship at Demotech Reiner van Thejn gave me the idea that theoretical work is just a simplification of hands-on work while I at the same time could experience that on the other hand there are many structural parallels.
Counting my self to the second category, Reinder and I decided for a self study, with the purpose of finding a way to readjust theoreticl thinking patters to practical work. First we discovered that it is not that much of physical ability which makes it difficult for us to manage practical tasks. It rather seems to be a question of experiences and technical knowledge.
Experiences can be gained through practise, thus repeating, mistakes and various changing attempts to reach a solution. Technical understanding is composed of technical knowledge and practical understanding. Both can be gained through experiences but need even more willingness to understand the background.
How to use hands
Thoughts of a typical type of brain person:
Now before to start:
Take your hands & get started:
Have a heart try it out:
When you finished - You are not yet finished:
Is the result similar to the target?
What if I don’t like the result?
What if I like it?
Find the Problem:
Evaluation of the learning process? What did I learn? How did I learn? How does it fit to what I knew before? Did anything change in my thinking?
When you repeat tasks: Check what do you still know? What do you need to know again before you start? Do you have all needed materials/ tools? Did you plan to do things diffenretn than last time (why was that again?)? Does it feel the same? (e.g. level of security, ability)
According to this structure I did my own evaluation of the stove firing:
1. direct making: What did I do/learn? chipping wood (wood properties, handeling) vaguely understanding the mechanism building a fire 2. indirect making: - How was the stove build? - What are the properties of it’s materials? - Heat, fire, air circulation - Faults of the stove 3. What to do better: - think about the purpose, not just do things - be consciously with your hands - take yourself serious - get more background information
Evaluation of what you did and learned during a task is the first step to get a better insight in hands-on work. In fact evaluation and drawing conclusions and consequences might be more important in the learning than the actual result. So once again the motto is learn from your mistakes but also learn from the good experiences. For oneself a deep help in understanding methods and processes is teaching. Another person unfamiliar with the task will have questions you might don’t have an answer to. Also s/he will make mistakes because the teaching did not prepare for the encountered problems. That could have different reasons; the message did not meet its purpose, instructions were insufficient, things were taken for granted without ever consciously being thought through, the method of teaching was wrong. For my self I can say that I didn’t explain the material properties nor the process well enough, leaving the special qualities of the stove aside. Partly this was because of my insufficient knowledge partly because I felt insecure in teaching and didn’t want to tell boring stuff which anyway everybody knows. This was a stuid assumption, since you can in the first part only know what you know and not what other people might know. Therefore it would have been a good idea to make sure before how much knowledge, experiences my counterpart already has about this or similar hands-on jobs. This might be an important thing if you are not used to teaching, be clear about whom you are teaching.
During my former work with Demotech and the SWSD, I experienced difficulties of nearly everybody to cope with hands-on work and with Demotech’s requirements for design. I think the problem might be the way in which we are used to learn. When we are taught something then we know from school or university that we are now expected to do a task and we need to do it in the right way. But with learning to do hands-on work it is not always that there is one right way to do it. If you get a task, you might not be expected to do it in a certain way but to actually solve a problem. Solving a problem does not only need experience but also affords the willingness to try different ways of solutions and develop them. Recognizing that one way of doing a task might not be the right one, is an essential step in solving a problem but often it also needs the readiness to also change own patterns of thinking. Since one of Demotech’s goals is to create design for selfreliance, also the learning process should be based on the same philosophy. Thus it is important to draw the connecting line. Self-reliance must overcome the paradigm of “wanting to know ” or “wanting to change” without willingness to learn. Learning means in this case, the wish to solve a problem, to put effort into it and to take new ideas from mistakes and failure. By the way for me that is also the motivation of activism. Demotech has in my view a special philosophy of making, especially since it’s design are made for self reliance. As I understood the design procedure, it is first once again necessary that every design is to solve a problem. That means it needs to develop in a way that it reduces frictions. Since each design is made to be used by everyone, it asks for special requirements: In material use it needs to be flexible enough that it can be produced everywhere to no or reasonably low costs. It can only require tools which are either available or which can be produced everywhere. The design must be simple enough that other people can repeat it (while language difficulties need to be taken into account as well). Thus try to reduce the design steps to a minimum of quantity and complexity. To be able to make the design independent from money and tool-availability it makes sense to develop own tools. Often they can be made out of rest-materials. Often also the materials for the design are available from scrap. Well, this probably needs the readiness to change away from the bad image of “garbage”-usage towards recognizing the value of recycling and redesigning. Since Demotech is also aware of the coming overpopulation, its design take into account environmental and social impacts. The designs should add as little as possible to the environmental degradation and in the best case even work against it. Therefore it is necessary to think about recycling, reusing and repairing. This goes together with requirement that the designs should be also applicable in poverty. On the other hand it must be kept in mind that they are as well usable in richer societies, since they are anyway based on highest possible efficiency, cost reduction, aesthetics and HYPERLINK "http://dict.leo.org/ende?lp=ende&p=/gQPUD&search=practicability" practicability. I already mentioned that one must be able to switch methods and recognize dead-end ways. Taking the case that somebody is not a natural talent or a genius, it is important to give the person a variety of different methods to choose from since then it will be easier to develop new methods.
So how to repair what our education has failed to teach us, namely the ability to use our hands? – I thought of different handicrafts which people already might be familiar with instead of starting with the more complex Demotech designs. Just the basics of woodcraft s, metal handling, clay working, but also knitting, sewing, baking/cooking, gardening could make them familiar with doing hands-on work. These are furthermore skills which some people, here with special look on the members of the SWSD, might already have. In this case a work shop exchange system could be developed. In a big style this could be a work camp where for five days people learn everyday a new skill, but it could also be a series of weekly workshops. While these workshops are done it would be important to make the people also think about the philosophy of making and communicate a feeling of empowerment through self-reliance. Furthermore it is important to encourage people to take on their own projects. That includes research either on own ideas or already stated projects, to discover the actual range of problems connected to the issue, and to design a solution. This is not only motivating but also gives them the opportunity to practise and develop their new skills and get a better understanding for the philosophy of making. During this process they might need help from an advisor with skills or ideas, but also the exchange with friends or colleagues. Thus it might be a good idea to work together with one or two other people on one project.
During my internship I didn’t experience this, so it could just be seen as a proposal from my side how to create a teaching method. I know that this is up to now very general and probably doesn’t add much to our current knowledge. Still I think it was/is necessary to hink about this topic more intensively, since it is a very good tool to empower people.
Noticias del Agua
PmWiki is a WikiWikiWeb system developed by Patrick Michaud in the PHP scripting language.