News Release

Techno-Vernacular Creativity and Innovation by Nettrice Gaskins, now available from The MIT Press

Book Announcement

The MIT Press

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 Techno-Vernacular Creativity and Innovation, now available from the MIT Press, Nettrice Gaskins proposes a novel approach to STEAM learning that engages students from historically marginalized communities in culturally relevant and inclusive maker education. “Making has the potential to bring greater educational equity for students in public schools and to be a driver in educational and societal change,” Gaskins writes. “Often missing from these discussions is how maker practices affect underrepresented ethnic communities. Also absent is recognition of the existing modes and spaces already in these communities, especially ones providing equity of access, inclusion, and relevance for students.”

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.

“Gaskins offers a deep analysis of techno-vernacular practice in communities of color as foundational to making and its educational possibilities,” said Shirin Vossoughi, Assistant Professor in Learning Sciences at Northwestern University. “Our approaches to STEAM learning and equity are profoundly expanded by her vision and praxis.”

“I wrote this book for students who are as I was,” Gaskins writes, “wanting to reach beyond what was being taught in classrooms and be true to themselves and their communities (of practice) in the process.”


About the Author:

Nettrice R. Gaskins is a digital artist, youth educator, independent academic, and cultural critic. Previously Director of the STEAM Lab at Boston Arts Academy, she is currently Assistant Director of the STEAM Learning Lab at Lesley University.

Learn more about the book via the MIT Press website:

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