Why Maker Centered Learning? (#mcl or #MakerCenteredLearning??)
I think Maker Centered Learning should be a part of every learning aspect in a school. Even more, it should be the main focus, not content. I think the #MakerSpace should be the whole campus, maybe a few rooms would have the specialized equipment. I am trying to organize my thoughts about “Maker” and hoping that sharing them will help.
Some people have said to start with the “Why”. There is even a book and a TEDTalk.
Though sometimes I think we need to start with the “What”, defining something so we are talking about the same thing or same framework. But we will stick with the “Why” for now.
There are a myriad of reasons. Some researched based, some just experience based. A difficult time I have is Reason #1 might not be what Person #1 needs, they might respond better to Reason #8.
1) We are all born makers. From mud pies to sand castles, peanut butter sandwiches to cookies, finger painting to works of art to songs …Some of us just keep it a main part of our life longer than others. But everyone is still a maker in some way.
2) Maker Centered Learning is a mashup, a confluence, of the ideas of Montessori, Dewey, Papert, and Piaget. So this is not something new. This is not something you do in addition to what you were already doing. It is a mindset, a framework, an approach to learning what we want the students to learn.
3) Makers are intrinsically motivated. Daniel Pink’s “Drive” tells us that is what really works. Mastery, Autonomy & Purpose literally drives us, and maker centered learning are full of those.
4) Maker Centered Learning develops :
Persistence in problem solving
Flexibility & Adaptability
Productivity & Accountability
(Noelle Conover @mattsmakerspace )
These are all skills that we know will help our children thrive in society, as well as skills that businesses say they want employees to have.
5) Maker Centered Learning fosters innovation and entrepreneurship. Again, good things for our students lives, as well as our society.
6) Maker Centered Learning incorporates Design Thinking and the Engineering Design Process. They are central to the making process.
7) Making is a part of every school subject and aspect of life. History = building of civilizations ; English Language Arts = create poetry or a story ; Science = build the thing you are experimenting on ; Math = apply concepts to design… how about using all quadrilaterals to design a building (I think rectangular rooms are boring, and also have the worst acoustics) ; Music = create your own ringtone ; Art = well, it is all maker centered...I believe I can come up with a “make” project for any and all content.
8) Making is naturally cross curricular and project based. I think we need to get rid of the subject silos we have in school. Engaging with ideas in real context has multiple topics intertwined. When I have to make something, there is a reason for me to learn a concept or skill. As a subject specialist, it is my job to weave the concepts we want students to learn into the project. But start with the project, not concepts.
9) Making is about Play, Passions, Peers, Projects. Things that we are saying we want more of in education. Have you read “Lifelong Kindergarten : Cultivating Creativity Through Projects, Passion, Peers, and Play” by Mitchel Resnick. We need more Play in our learning spaces. “Play is where ideas audition for a part in our minds production of understanding” (Kevin Honeycutt)
10) Maker Centered Learning is Student Centered Learning. They will not all be making the same exact thing, even if they make the same thing. When we made mousetrap cars in Physics to study motion, they all made “cars” but they were all so different. Which allows us, even prompts us, to have varied conversations.
11) Maker Centered Learning creates a variety of on-ramps to the content. Every student can come at it from their perspective, from their own skill set. Then we can have the conversations. About content. About personal interests and skills. Making opens up that 2 way highway of conversation.
12) “Making allows youth to improve their lives and the community around them.”
(Aaron Vanderwerff https://twitter.com/aVndrwrff/status/1062355251901202432 )
I would definitely want the school to have lots of inroads into the community. I have the crazy idea that a District could run a monthly Farmers Market/Craft Fair, mostly student products. The student run food truck that is at the Market could be used during the month for feeding homeless, and the culinary that is going on in all schools could be a Food Rescue. Different “student businesses” that do work, especially for elderly. Science experiments exploring the community and designing solutions to problems. No need for an annual “coat drive” or “canned food drive”, it happens all the time.
I think all these ideas would fill a book.
13) “Making as an instructional and learning practice is fundamentally exposure therapy for a fear of failure.” ( Michael Vaughn )
Mythbusters has a famous quote “Failure is always an option”. Others say that failure is just data. You are going to “fail” at something. Thomas Edison said “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb is an invention with 1,000 steps”. We need to learn how to re-frame our “failures”. It often takes multiple iterations to get something right. Learning is an iterative process, not a one and done. Making really gets at the heart of “not yet”. It also helps students get away from the idea of “perfectionism”. When I edited video for things at school, it was never “perfect” and I was never “finished”. I just ran out of time to do more/better.
14) The making of an artefact anchors the learning of a concept in the brain. We remember the things we make and we also remember the connections that we made because of it. Do you remember something that you made while in school? Usually making uses both sides of our brain for the same project.
15) These kids, this society, needs different. To quote Albert Einstein, “we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used to create them”. Making gets us that ingenuity, that divergent thinking, the “i can make/do/fix anything” attitude.
Do any of these resonate with you?
Do any of these make you think “I need to incorporate this maker centered learning into my learning space” ?
Most importantly, how do we spread the message?
How do we get these ideas to people who do not see this yet?
What other reasons can you think of?
Which would you like to discuss?
Decades ago, my city turned an old school into an activities center. I recently found out they have a woodshop in there open to the public, after you take an orientation class (and for $5 every visit). (My woodshop is in my unheated garage). The class is once a month, so I went last night to see what is was like (there are a few tools I do not have). There were nine other people. There was a college age boy and his mother, 3 men and 4 women, probably in their 50’s and 60’s.
It is a former classroom, so not massive, certainly not shop class size. The instructor showed us how to use a power tool, then each person took a turn. He really wasn’t saying much about the ins & outs of the tools, so after a few minutes of not speaking, I started to interject. Most of the people had never used any of these tools, so just flipping the switch and making a cut with a saw doesn’t really teach you anything.
They do have a good variety of tools, but some of them were not working well. The compound sliding mitre saw worked fine. But the table saw was another story. After a few people rip cut a half inch board, it started to shut off on people. The board had a little “cup” in it, but that shouldn’t have stopped the saw. They would get half way and it would stop. We reset and tried again and it stopped again. Eventually we gave up. One difficulty of a shop is the power that some of the power tools need, They really cannot share breakers with another tool. I do not know how this room is wired, but the dust collection system breaker kept popping.
We moved over to the jointer, which is the one tool I do not have and really need. We used it, but I do not think it is working well. The instructor later said he thinks the adjustment gauge is broken. So that is not very helpful if the cut depth is not working correctly. I am a little wary about the sharpness of the blades also. Next was the 12” planar. The feed rollers were not working and I think those blades are dull also, it didn’t sound good and was leaving marks in the wood.
The rest of the tools worked fine. There was a router table, a 14” band saw, a scroll saw, belt/disc sander, spindle sander, drill press. There were a few hand tools (sander, drill, jig saw, air compressor, brad nailer) that we did not use.
It is great that the City has this available all day. But I am worried about the maintenance and care of the equipment. The jointer is the main thing I am in need of, so I am not sure about going to use one that is not working properly. Though I would like to find some fellow woodworkers to work with.