Friday, May 24, 2013

Makerspace Playbook

Highlights from the Makerspace Playbook

Makers are enthusiasts who play with technology to learn about it. A new technology presents an invitation to play, and makers regard this kind of play as highly satisfying.

We must try to bring this kind of magic into schools, hard as it may be. Formal education has become such a serious business, defined as success at abstract thinking and high-stakes testing, that thereʼs no time and no context for play. If play is what you do outside school, then that is where the real learning will take place and thatʼs where innovation and creativity will be found.

The rigid academic system is short-changing all students, even though an elite few seem to do well by academic standards. However, there is increasing skepticism that even those who succeed academically are not the kind of creative, innovative thinkers and doers that we need.

Our biggest challenge—and the biggest opportunity for the Maker Movement—is to transform education. Our hope is that the agents of change will be the students themselves. Increasingly, technology has given them more control over their lives, and even the simplest cell phone can change a personʼs sense of agency.
This is our challenge. It isnʼt enough to train current students for the world of today — we have to train them for tomorrow, a tomorrow that will require them to master technologies that donʼt yet exist. Think about it: a child in middle school today will be entering the prime of their careers in 2040. We have no idea what the world will be like then
Nobody who uses the space is required to be an expert. The most important thing is to have a passion for and a curiosity about making in many different forms.

While there is no simple recipe for how to mentor, mentors will be most effective if they think like Makers: staying curious, interested, respectful. Mentors should always focus on the studentsʼ interests, not their own, but they can share what they love to do so that the students can see that mentors are passionate about Making too.  

Dweckʼs growth mindset maps very well to the maker mindset, which is a can-do mindset that can be summarized as “what can you do with what you know.” It is an invitation to take ideas and turn them into various kinds of reality. It is the process of iterating over a project to improve it. It is a chance to participate in communities of makers of all ages by sharing your work and expertise. Making is a social experience, built around relationships

Fostering the maker mindset is a fundamentally human project – to support the growth and development of another person, not just physically but mentally and emotionally. It should focus on the whole person because any truly creative enterprise requires all of us, not just some part. It should also be rooted in the kind of sharing of knowledge and skills that humans do best face to face.

Education happens everywhere. Learning happens in our community, not just on campus. Our current education system struggles to tap the resources available in the community, yet our culture is richer with information and opportunities than ever before.