Techno-Vernacular Creativity and Innovation
Culturally Relevant Making Inside and Outside of the Classroom
A novel approach to STEAM learning that engages students from historically marginalized communities in culturally relevant and inclusive maker education.
The growing maker movement in education has become an integral part of both STEM and STEAM learning, tapping into the natural DIY inclinations of creative people as well as the educational power of inventing or making things. And yet African American, Latino/a American, and Indigenous people are underrepresented in maker culture and education. In this book, Nettrice Gaskins proposes a novel approach to STEAM learning that engages students from historically marginalized communities in culturally relevant and inclusive maker education. Techno-vernacular creativity (TVC) connects technical literacy, equity, and culture, encompassing creative innovations produced by ethnic groups that are often overlooked.
TVC uses three main modes of activity: reappropriation, remixing, and improvisation. Gaskins looks at each of the three modes in turn, guiding readers from research into practice. Drawing on real-world examples, she shows how TVC creates dynamic learning environments where underrepresented ethnic students feel that they belong. Students who remix computationally, for instance, have larger toolkits of computational skills with which to connect cultural practices to STEAM subjects; reappropriation offers a way to navigate cultural repertoires; improvisation is firmly rooted in cultural and creative practices. Finally, Gaskins explores an equity-oriented approach that makes a distinction between conventional or dominant pedagogical approaches and culturally relevant or responsive making methods and practices. She describes TVC habits of mind and suggests methods of instructions and projects.
“What hip hop pioneers did for the auditory world, Gaskins does for the physical world: an explosive remix of grassroots creativity, high-tech appropriation and deep heritage resonance, with implications ranging from STEM education to social justice movements.”
Ron Eglash, Professor, School of Information, University of Michigan
“This brilliant and compelling book presents a radically inclusive reframing of technological innovation. Both well-researched and actionable, it uses the untold history of techno-creative practices of marginalized and indigenous communities as a road map for broadening participation in mainstream tech.”
Celia Pearce, Associate Professor of Game Design, Northeastern University, cofounder of IndieCade, and author of Communities of Play
“Gaskins offers a deep analysis of techno-vernacular practice in communities of color as foundational to making and its educational possibilities. Our approaches to STEAM learning and equity are profoundly expanded by her vision and praxis.”
Shirin Vossoughi, Assistant Professor, Learning Sciences, Northwestern University
“I am thrilled to find work that allows me to triangulate between my roots as a Black designer, the academic world of cross-disciplinary scholarship, and vernacular aesthetic activism—all while mapping out a new vision for technocultural futures.”
Audrey G. Bennett, University Diversity and Social Transformation Professor and Professor of Art and Design, Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design, University of Michigan