Culture of Repair Connects Educators and Students Worldwide

Culture of Repair Connects Educators and Students Worldwide

Believe it or not, back-to-school season is right around the corner. Even if you’re not quite ready to trade in your lemonade for a pumpkin spice latte, we’re already planning ahead for the new school year. Since 2009, iFixit has partnered with university instructors and students through our Technical Writing Project. While our own formal education program has made a significant impact at colleges and universities from California to Maine and from Toronto to Puerto Rico, it’s crucial that we as a society ensure that youth at every level—including elementary, middle, and high school—are encouraged to think and learn about the benefits of repair. 

Thankfully, there’s a globe-spanning community of fixers, tinkerers, makers, and educators who have been working tirelessly toward this goal, connecting across continents to share ideas and strategies. One such person is Vita Wells, the force behind Culture of Repair, a community organization dedicated to collecting and sharing repair resources for K-12 classrooms and educational nonprofits. Combining her background as an artist with experience in makerspaces, Vita is driving impactful change in California’s Bay Area by supporting community repair events and bringing repair programs into classrooms. She hopes these programs will encourage today’s youth to think critically about where our stuff comes from, how it’s designed, and how we can extend its useful life—in short, how we can establish a culture where repair is once again the norm rather than the exception.

Resources for Educators

To help lay the groundwork for this cultural shift, Vita and the Culture of Repair team have collected resources for educators around the globe to incorporate repair into their classrooms. Are you an educator looking to introduce your students to repair? Do you know a teacher looking for some excellent repair-centered classroom activities? Here are three particularly awesome resources to get you started: 

  • Make it Work (ages 10-12) (ages 14-18): A teaching pack that empowers students to repair electronic devices while learning about the importance of a circular economy and sustainability. Available in English, French, and Dutch. Created by Djapo and Sharepair in Belgium.
  • Fixing Things for the Future: Instructional handbook for implementing a repair class based upon the success of the Rudolf Steiner School’s student-led repair shop. Available in English and German. Created by the Rudolf Steiner School in Munich, Germany. 
  • Cultivating a Repair Mindset: A toolkit that includes teaching strategies, classroom activities, and materials for helping students foster a “Repair Mindset. Created by Maker Ed & Agency by Design in Oakland, California, USA.

To learn more about these amazing resources—and to explore plenty of others—check out The Culture of Repair Project’s website.

Fixing a MacBook

Grants for Teaching Repair

Having experienced the challenges of establishing community repair programs firsthand, Vita’s organization is helping to pave the way for others by offering grants to jumpstart repair initiatives across the United States. Past grant recipients include Repair PDX, an organization that hosts repair cafés, repair workshops, and other educational events in Portland, OR; and Waste Loop in Leavenworth, WA, an initiative that develops solutions for converting waste into sustainable resources. 

Do you have an idea for an environmentally friendly project that will empower school-aged youth to level up their repair skills? If so, Culture of Repair wants to hear from you! You can learn more about their grants program and apply here

When asked what she envisions by offering these grants, Vita said, “I hope to get programs going and start a ripple effect, offer resources to schools, and fire people up!” That’s a goal we can definitely get behind! In fact, iFixit’s education team is developing a collection of repair-centered K-12 resources for educators, so keep an eye out as we continue to add activities and lessons to the collection.

If you know of any other repair-oriented K-12 resources that we can share, let us know in the comments!