Educational Values

At The Hacktory, we believe there is an innate satisfaction in understanding the objects and systems around us. We have found that the best way to understand these things is by re-purposing, de-coupling, breaking, and re-arranging them from their intended use. In this process of un-making and re-making, we find and create new meanings. We help people experience technology in ways that magnify the joy of understanding technology and making new things.

We participate in The Hacktory because…

We find joy in making art and artifacts to improve the lives of others, to communicate and express ourselves, and to extend the function of the objects around us. We believe that STEM1 and art education, when practiced together, deepen curiosity for and reinforce learning of both.2 We think everyone should have opportunities to learn by creating, and thereby to experience the natural joy of both.

The Hacktory does this by…

We offer access to knowledge, tools and materials to find the intersection between art and technology. Our craft reaches across many techniques of physical creation and intellectual practice. These might include programming, textiles, metalwork, design, electronics, fine art, engineering, sciences, and more. We seek to draw connections among all of these without elevating one above another. We foster personal connections to art and science, and assign equal value to both domains. We engage our participants with the assumption that everyone has something to learn and everyone has something to teach. We do this in a manner that is inclusive of all axes of identity, including age, expertise, profession, class, gender, race, orientation, and ability.

In our space we provide opportunities to learn and to teach in structured and unstructured environments. We embrace alternative models of learning. We recognize the value of building physical systems as a way of developing mental models of their functioning3. By bringing together peers with disparate skills, we encourage learning by watching what others are doing, and attempting to do it, thereby appropriating that knowledge to one’s own use4.

Finally, we aim to make our teaching materials available for others to use. Whenever possible, we compose them in a way that is clear, portable, extensible, and freely available for other people to download, adapt to their own context, and use.

  1. STEM is an acronym for the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. (More recently, some have included the Arts in the acronym, creating STEAM fields.)
  2. A link leading from combined arts and science instruction to increased retention of science knowledge has been documented by Beuchley et. al..
  3. This theory of learning is called constructionism, mostly closely identified with Seymour Papert.
  4. This kind of apprenticeship model where the novice builds skills by watching is often called Legitimate Peripheral Participation (Lave and Wenger, Kafai, et. al.)