Making Things Again

Play episode
Photo by Jo Szczepanska

Liz Waid and Colin Lowther look at the maker movement. In this movement, people invent and fix things instead of throwing them away.

Voice 1  

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Liz Waid.

Voice 2  

And I’m Colin Lowther. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Follow along on YouTube
Voice 1  

Have you ever had a problem? You are a person, so of course you have! Maybe your motorbike would not start. Maybe you needed to fix a toilet. Maybe you did not know how to download something to your smartphone. All people have problems. But what was the first thing you did to solve your problem?

Voice 2  

If you can connect to the Internet, one of the first things you probably did was search there for an answer. There, you can find information and videos to help you with almost any problem. These how-to videos are very popular. That is because more and more people are interested in doing things themselves. More people are becoming interested in growing, making, and fixing things. This growing interest is known as the maker movement. Today’s Spotlight is on the maker movement.

Voice 1

 The maker movement includes a lot of different people and ideas. It includes people working independently to invent, create or design. Makers are people who design and create their own clothes or grow their own food. Many makers look at things in the world and say, “I could make that.” Or they may say, “I think I could make that better.” Or they dream of something they wish existed. And when they do not find it, they try to create it.

Voice 2  

People have always made things. Ancient people made baskets, bowls, and tools. One generation of people taught the next. Parents taught children. This was how people shared knowledge, experience, and wisdom with each other.

Voice 1  

But things started to change. Machines made it easier to grow food. So, fewer people needed to work on farms. So they moved to cities. They found work in factories. But then factories started to use machines. It started to cost less money to buy a new thing than to fix an old one. People began to forget how to grow food, create things, or fix things when they broke.

tool bench
Photo by Maxim Selyuk
Voice 2  

And many people are tired of this. They do not want to throw things away. They want to be able to fix things that break. They want to grow their own food. They do not want to depend on factories or stores. They want to use knowledge and skills instead of spending money. In this way, the maker movement is a kind of return to the way things used to be.

Voice 1  

The maker movement includes traditional work like weaving cloth, making things out of wood, and growing your own food. But it also accepts and uses new technologies. Computers are now much less frightening to people than they used to be. More people understand how they work. Children learn to write code for computers in school. The Internet provides training and a way to connect to other makers.

Voice 2  

People in the maker movement come together to make things. Maker Faires are gatherings of these people. They spend a few days together talking, planning, inventing, and solving problems. These Faires began in the United States, but have spread to every continent. For example, in 2016 there was a Maker Faire in Shenzhen, China. At the Faire people taught wooden knife making, drawing, and how to build a robot out of LEGO building bricks. There was even a clothes fashion show. Much of the clothing was wearable technology. It had built-in computers, lights, or body sensors.

Voice 1  

Another kind of gathering of makers is called a Repair Café. People bring their broken things to the Repair Café. The Café has tools and supplies to fix things. There are also experts who offer to teach people how to fix what they have brought in. But whenever possible, the people must do the work themselves. Repair Cafés began in Amsterdam, but have also spread around the world. There are Repair Cafés in Egypt, Kenya, Ghana, Thailand, Brazil, Germany, Argentina, Azerbaijan, China and many other countries.

Voice 2  

And the maker movement is still growing. It is even starting to change education. Some schools are creating “maker spaces.” In these places, children can invent, combine, and discover. Jim Tiffin is a teacher in New York, in the US. His students do not just sit and listen to him talk. In the maker-space, they do things. He told the Scholastic website,

Voice 3  

“It has had the most empowering effect on students of any of the courses that I have taught. Students are taking the experiences from this class and using them in their other classes.”

man sewing belt
Photo by Devin Edwards
Voice 1  

Experts say that any school can be a maker space like this. They do not need high cost equipment or supplies. They can use paper, broken toys, string, clay or tape. Any materials will work. Students just have to make things!

Voice 2  

But schools are not the only places interested in the maker movement. Some big businesses also try to use the maker movement to sell more products. The clothing company Levis sells millions of pairs of blue jeans around the world. Many people do not consider them to be part of the maker movement. But Levis tries to find people who are making creative things. Then they put these things on their website. Big businesses like this tell the stories of these makers. People like the stories and buy more clothing. This way they try to seem like they are part of the maker movement even if they are making clothes in big factories.

Voice 1  

Many people do not want to just use things and throw them in the garbage. They want to use their hands. They want to learn. They want to be independent and in control. Tim Bajarin wrote about the maker movement for Time Magazine. He wrote:

Voice 4  

“The more I look into it, the more I believe that the maker movement is very important to America’s future. It may be able to turn more and more people into makers instead of just people who use things. I know from history that when you give makers the right tools and good ideas, they can change the world.”

Voice 2  

Do you like to learn new things? Do you like to create and repair? Tell us what you think. You can leave a comment on our website. Or email us at radio@radioenglish.net. You can also comment on Facebook at Facebook.com/spotlightradio.

Voice 1  

The writer of this program was Adam Navis. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, ‘Making Things Again’.

Voice 2  

Look out for our listening app in the Google Play store and in iTunes. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Question:

What do you do when something breaks? Do you try to fix it or replace it? Write your answer in the comments below.

Join the discussion

19 comments
  • yes of course
    i live small city in korea.
    l started to learn to make cloth
    that i was fourty.
    now i am 56years.
    i want to share my makeing clothe way.

    • It depends. If I see that the problem is complex for fix I looking for one specialist, if not I fix it by myself.

  • I try to fix anything when it breaks. It help me to save some money. If it can’t fix i will buy a new one, maybe it is more comfortable and more esier to use.
    Thanks Team Spotlight for helping me to improve English.

  • I don’t interested in making and fixing things . Because I’m not patient person to wait until the end . Also, I don’t have the talent of repairing things. I prefer to throw the ruin thins and buy a new . It easier

  • I don’t have money . I try to fix my
    Problems my self , I already fixed my laptop with out taking any suggestions

  • There are several things , I can fix them
    by myself.
    For example, a broke remote control or
    Anything is simple and not complicated.
    But alos, there are many things ,I can’t fix them because they are complicated or
    complex electronic devices, so it will take time and energy if I repair them so it’s easier to me to buy new one or let expert fixes them or throw them away

  • i am s maker about bag and hat
    i want to share my method everyone in the word.
    i am working cloths factory.
    there are a lot of wasted fabric
    so i use the wasted fabric to make new things

  • First of all I will try to fix it or repair it if not I will searching in website to figure out the solutions or asking some one if not I will replace it in the end. This is my way to deal with things.

  • I couldn’t listen to Radio Spotlight like before because of the new look( new feature / New App). Listening will not continue if my phone screen is turned off or locked. It is very inconvenient because I do not always hold the phone in my hand. Please correct the new feature or revert to the old version Sportling used. It is very useful and much more effective. Thank You,u

    • Thank you for this feedback! With this new change, we are listening to you and we will update and make changes as we can. We are so sorry you’re having trouble with this issue!

  • In the first place I will try to fix it if it’s important me , but many of things I don’t interesting fix them because replace it is easier

More from this show

Episode 3