spark-41Yesterday saw the launch of SPARK Festival in Brighton, a new one-day gathering of people who care about empowering young people to be active in shaping the life they want to lead and the world they want to live in. With the widening emergence of coding and making clubs for young people, ‘thing-making’ and education seem to be an obvious fit. In true Fab-Lab style, SPARK Festival is not a classic sit-back and listen event. Long Run Communications and MakerClub, the event’s founders, asked attendees to get stuck in to their problem solving workshops and collectively help reformulate the educational system in one day.

SPARK’s workshops interrogated what open fabrication means for our future generations by asking philosophical questions such as; how do teachers become learners and students become masters? How can non-linear learning make us fit for purpose in a chaotic world? Or even, how do schools become pioneers of innovation?

We caught up with Guy Pattison from Long Run Communications to find out a little more about SPARK.

Q: Explain SPARK?
SPARK Brighton is a small but perfectly formed gathering of people who are interested in finding new ways to help innovation flourish within education. We hope that by bringing together educators with entrepreneurs, employers and learners, we’ll spark new conversations, connections and ideas that people can act upon. It’s less about creating entirely new concepts and more about understanding how to overcome barriers so that people can add more speed, scope and scale to their existing approaches.

Q: What was the inspiration behind this event?
As Long Run we ran a hackshop over the summer that really brought home the appetite young people have to learn and make a difference in their choice of work, and the huge disconnect with how schools and employers are set up to help them achieve this. Likewise, Maker Club is driven by a deep desire to inspire the next generation of inventors that they feel doesn’t happen in schools today. We both agree the world urgently needs more agile, creative and diverse thinkers, and while this generation is inspired by a sense of purpose to live, work and play sustainably, collectively we can do much more to help equip them. In truth it is a pub conversation that got out of hand but if this event helps then we’ll look to keep building it.

Q: What kind of role do you think maker clubs will play within education and why is this collaboration so important?
The great thing about maker clubs is the freedom to explore and accomplish things through trail and error. It’s very hard to nurture invention and innovation within schools because they are not designed or run with a philosophy to embrace failure. Maker clubs give you the time, freedom and support to make mistakes and learn from them. There’s no limits to imagination and best of all it’s just about having fun.

Q: Which social issues do you think maker clubs will have the greatest effect on in the future?
Most of societies biggest long run challenges – e.g. ageing population, resource scarcity, climate change, urbanisation – all represent huge opportunities for improving the way with live based in part on how we respond using technology. I’ve no doubt that the guys and girls starting off in marker clubs today, who might become engineers, scientists, technologists, will be the heroes and rockstars of tomorrow.