What’s a Learning Mess?


Learning mess: n., a mess that is created as a result of the learning process; also a mess that encourages further learning

My library doesn’t have a dedicated area yet for making.  At the moment, our Makerspace is a collection of tables with bins of K’nex, LEGOs and Snap Circuits out on top of them.  I leave this area free for tinkering, except for when we have classes or special events.  And inevitably, it gets messy.  Sometimes insanely messy, like the picture above.  This stresses out some of my kids that love every little thing to be in it’s perfect place.  And while I do normally keep it tidier than in the picture above, I never fully clean up the whole space.

learning mess twitter 2

A little mess makes students feel more comfortable.  If things are too pristine, too perfect, too organized, then students are afraid to mess things up.  They’re afraid of being fussed at.  Having a few half-finished projects lying on the table is like an invitation to come and tinker.

So the next time that students get crazy and there’s LEGOs all over the floor, books left in the wrong place on the shelves, and bits of forgotten homework on the tables, take a deep breath.  And learn to love a little learning mess.  It’s so much better than having an unused space.

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