The maker movement which began in the Bay Area of California roughly 12 to 15 years ago has become a hot term in education as recent as the fall of 2015.
Some see it as the next potential silver bullet to transform an age old institution. Some see it as the flavor of the week by over enthusiastic teachers and administrators who are always looking for the next thing. The maker movement is just that, it’s a movement.
The spirit of the maker movement is a revisiting of an age old concept. Makers, a.k.a. entrepreneurs and inventors are not new to our culture. Inventing brought our country and others to the Industrial Age. Inventing also brought the world to the Information Age.
We now call it making, hacking, crafting as common terms. In 2015, at the MakerFaire in the Bay Area, early entry on Friday began as an opportunity for schools to see and experience the maker movement . In 2016, the morning of that Friday, a workshop was held for administrators and teachers who want to begin makerspaces at their school sites.
And making in classrooms and schools is not a new concept. Teachers and school sites have been doing projects since the inception of education as a delivery for instructional goals. There is a lot of excitement and a new push towards making in schools. I caution teachers and administrators to not fall into getting on board this popular concept. It is not a strategy that can be used in the classroom like silent sustained reading. It is really a mindset in the way that you approach your instructional practices and the culture at your school site promoting a spirit of inventing an entrepreneurship with students.
What this may look like for your classroom and your school culture depends a lot on your students. Are they excited about the idea of being makers? Do they understand the value and the importance of risk-taking and failure? Are they encouraged to own their educational roadmap and take risks?
In my own district, over the course of the last year and a half, we have begun to have explorations around the maker movement.
We are creating spaces and opportunities in libraries and on campuses where students can explore and demonstrate their learning in differentiated ways. We have no answers and have many questions. We are encouraging our students to bring their maker practices from home to school. That bridge between what many students are doing at home for the love of hacking and exploring and the required schoolwork will create a stronger community overall.
In my own technology department, we have attended the Friday MakerFaire event as a department PD so my staff can support teachers and students that want to hack their education. I will also say that naturally, IT departments often operate in the spirit of the maker movement. On a daily basis, we hack solutions that will fulfill the needs of our students and staff. It’s a natural fit for school based technology departments to be hackers. If you are thinking about a makerspaces for your classroom or school, do it. There is everything to be gained in instilling an inventing/hacking mindset in curious minds. And, they are doing it at home already-bridge it.
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