I’ve taken my time on engaging the Makerspace movement. Not personally (I love making, repairing and tinkering with things), but as an educational leader. We are bringing a lot of change to our schools, and I find myself asking, “Where best do I focus my energy and the energy of the educators I work with?” Having a space for students to explore their own creativity and just try things out in the physical world sounds like a lot of fun, but how do we connect that with the other developments and learning that we are currently doing as educators? We’re already doing solid work on Formative Assessment, Communicating Student Learning, Inquiry, and much more. And while Makerspaces appeal to me on the basis of connecting with technology, will other educators see Makerspaces as something belonging just to the Physics lab or the Tech Ed shops?
So, how does “Making” integrate with the educational principles that guide our current practice?
At it turns out, I’ll get to dig more into this question.
This spring at Kwantlen Park, as part of our Learning Commons renovation, we received a number of Makerspace resources, including books and materials. Our Tech Ed teacher is indeed the point person on this project, and he asked me (and several others) to engage with the books and materials, to do some reading and experimenting, and see where and how we think these ideas can be put to work in Kwantlen Park.
I’ve started reading through “Invent to Learn”, by Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager, expecting to find discussions of the need to produce technically skilled individuals, and propositions relating to STEM topics. Instead, one of the first quotes is from Piaget, stating that “What is needed at both the university and secondary level are teachers who indeed know their subject but approach it from a constantly interdisciplinary view.” (Piaget, 1976). Reading ideas from from Dewey, Maria Montessori and others whose work supported the growth of Constructivist thinking leads me to reflecting that the principles of Making, at least as proposed by Martinez and Stager, have less to do with developing techological skill, and more to do with learning how to learn.
Over the break I’m going to dig in and see if this initial proposition is right. I’m also going to do some testing of the Maker materials (and yes, the technology is a big part of it) with my own home lab and guinea pigs – my kids. We’ll start with seeing if they have a taste for Raspberry Pi.