At times, we may need to take a pause and let the students see the big picture and the context, not missing the forest among the trees and the ocean among the waves. The yo-yo class at MIT seems to be doing exactly that.
As any activity undergoes excessive functional specialization, the people involved in the process could get alienated from the objects and objectives of the very activity they are part of. Karl Marx characterized this as the ‘dehumanization of laborers’ under capitalism. One wonders if, in a somewhat similar way, if we see a parallel in the mainstream Education as well.
As the learning domains and activities get compartmentalized and specialized, at some point, the learners would seem to be losing the context of the learnings they are involved in. This risk is even bigger in higher learning. Thus at times, we may need to take a pause and let the students see the big picture and the context, not missing the forest among the trees and the ocean among the waves. The yo-yo class at MIT seems to be doing exactly that.
In the Design and Manufacturing II class, the mechanical engineering students at MIT learn about the manufacturing processes used for everyday products ranging from toys to cars to smartphones. For their main project, each student works in a team to design a unique yo-yo and produce at least 50 units. According MIT, yo-yos offer students creative freedom while also being simple enough to successfully manufacture within a single semester, and to do so in a quantity that makes you feel like you are in a factory. The course (known as ‘the yo-yo class’), with a flipped-classroom model, is very popular among students as they learn about everything in manufacturing from basics of design, to materials and sustainable production.
Hope this serves as a model for more institutions and more courses. Let our students see the forest for the trees and feel the ocean among the waves.