Chapter 5: Getting Out of My Own Way

Getting Out of My Own Way: Trusting the Process and Resisting Closure

Memes, Bandwagons and Movements

“There are many educational paradigms and positions bombarding us with ideas, challenges, critiques, mandates, and memes. Sometimes they provide pithy, quick answers to the daunting and messy issues of our time. By distilling the complexity of our world, memes offer us for/against pro/con binaries and catchy fixes that run the risk of causing people to form instantaneous allegiances. Some memes can feel reactionary and reductionist, and are actually false binaries which prevent us from seeing multiple ways and perspectives.” -From Unfolding Practice

The attraction of memes, bandwagons and movements is easy to understand. They offer us quick fixes, convenient structure, and clever, grabby distillations of complex ideas. But as stated above, there are pitfalls. They can also divide us and preclude deep thinking about the difficult issues of our time.

In the case of “next big thing” movements such as the “Maker Movement” there are other problems as well. In a similar way to how Social Practice Art runs the risk of ignoring the contributions of previous community based art practices, Maker culture can  ignore the contributions of making communities already embedded in cultures. The adopters of maker programs too often do so quickly and blindly, without  reflection or connection to context. This cultural insensitivity is analogous and parallel to forces of gentrification and even colonialism.