(someone has suggested that I write a book about this idea and do full day workshops on it, but I don’t think I have enough for that. So I will write about it here in short bursts)
I am an advocate for #MakerCenteredLearning, #MakerMindset, #MakerSpaces, #MakerEd. I believe we learn best through designing, creating and building. I think if we focus students on the making aspect of something, we (as content experts) can weave the needed content into the discussions. And learning truly is about the discussions that we have or overhear. Maker Centered Learning (MCL) is a mashup of Dewey, Papert, Montessori, Piaget, Vygotsky, Resnick. It is a student centered, cross curricular, blended, PBL, with design thinking. Maker Centered Learning (MCL) will help students increase content and tool knowledge and skills, with purpose and meaning and in context. MCL will help students develop a sense of agency and build character. Students will be empowered with an “I can do it” attitude that they can change things in the world around them, and find out that actually we “do it together” to build community. MCL gives every kid their own on ramp to the academic content, the super highway of learning. MCL encourages them to develop and express their creative vision.
To that end, my friend John Martin and I have a crazy idea. Mash up a Farmers Market with a Craft Market with a Maker Faire. I think a school district could function with their central focus being running this monthly Market/Faire. Not only will we be making and selling stuff, we will also be demonstrating things and showing off our learning. A monthly art faire, science faire, concert, drama production ; it will be a monthly performance assessment.
I am not saying we have the school be a production factory with child labor. I am saying that most of the content and skills we want students to learn can be done around the core idea of a market. If we talk about an idea that is “way out there”, maybe we might put into action something that is “just a bit out there”.
It is possible that we cannot “hit” 100% of our content standards this way. Okay. Then we do seminars and workshops for those pieces. Though I think skills are more important than standards and I also think we have too many content standards in each area.
We should be working in mixed aged groups. That could be developmentally appropriate or interest driven or older teaching younger, or some blend of that. I also want all kids to see every aspect (every “subject”), not just “I’ll be a writer for 12 years”. Though we should focus on finding their best fit place in the market, which can change as they grow. Kinda like we should be helping them find what they are good at, but expose them to other things in life. Maybe the younger ages spend less time working on Market functions/ideas as they develop the foundations of life/learning skills (though definitely not traditional schooling)? Lots of things to discuss.
Let’s start with the Market/Faire itself. We need advertising and marketing. We are talking radio, podcast, Pandora, TV, print posters/flyers/postcard/business cards… Students of all ages work on the various aspects of creating these. Writing, acting, producing, recording, editing. How long is that list of names and jobs at the end of a movie? We need to buy “air” time and print space. We might need to publish our own “magazine.” We should probably find some sponsors also. We should get an advertising/marketing company to help us learn these ideas. Maybe an older student could get an internship if we have a good connection. We definitely need a website, so we need content for that. And designers and webmasters. A blog? We need various social media accounts to reach as many people as possible, more content creators and editors, probably some overlap for a consistent message. Photographers, journalists, editors. This might take a few kids and teachers.
Even after you get the market going you still need advertising and marketing. You have to keep the buzz going. You will be having different specials each month, different themes for the seasons or holidays. We also need a historian to keep track of what we have been doing, successes and failures.
Do you see all the subject areas in there? How could your subject area be a part of this? Your content standards? I am thinking cross-curricular, blended, project/problem based learning with a purpose. Photographers/videographers aren’t just capturing images. They will be learning the math & science and history of the equipment and profession. Historians learning about how our society has captured events of the past, literally how we have recorded the history of the world (You don’t HAVE to show them the Mel Brooks movie). History will be everywhere because we have to explore how things were done in the past to discuss how to do it now. Writing , reading, communication (all the C’s) skills. Economics. Research on color theory. Drone pilots to capture aerial footage. Survey creators to get data about how the market is going or what new things people might like (market research). Math to analyze the data. So many possibilities.
Our school buildings are just our offices. Our learning happens everywhere in the community.
Coming up... a look at some individual booths :