The other day I saw this article about building makerspaces in schools and the photo showed what seemed to me to be a nice workshop, similar to what schools had when I grew up. Of course, now these spaces have things like 3D printers, not a tool we had years back, but the saws and drill presses are pretty standard fare. It made me wonder if there was any real purpose for using new words to describe the same thing.
Shop class used to be something students took unless their studies were focused on college, but it was always an available option for anyone. Wood shop, metal shop and drafting (with T-squares, compasses and protractors) taught you how to design and build things in the real, physical world. After schools dropped shop and aimed everyone at college, the space was taken over by more classrooms and after a while, traditional skills disappeared among our young.
Now, shop is returning, but schools are reluctant to look at the past and use the same words we did, so now it’s a makerspace or maker lab. Schools and promoters of these trendy labels point out the new high tech tools we never had so these makerspaces are different, so they say, from those old school shops. It’s odd because our school shops had new tools, too, just new for the time when they existed.
When you think about it, our word is better. A workshop is any space where you can do all manner of work using tools, but a makerspace is for what, making? Suppose you want to fix something that’s broken, is it now a fixerspace? If you restore something is it a re-makerspace? Workshop covers it all. Newspeak isn’t necessary and, now when I see it everywhere, it’s becoming annoying.
Perhaps those who don’t like older traditional words are concerned they might bring up associations with other traditional ideas that worked very well in the past and still do. There’s no telling what a young person might do if he or she makes the connection, so 21st century newspeak it will be. Well, I’m getting hungry, I think I’ll see what’s in the eater space.