Writing a post like this isn’t easy. I feel like I know in my heart what my philosophy on makerspaces is, but putting it into tangible statements seems harder. So I started thinking about this more as a manifesto – if I was to make a grand statement about what I feel the value of makerspaces in schools are, what would it be? To me, what are the most important values of makerspaces?
The Renovated Learning Philosophy of Makerspaces
This is my own personal philosophy on makerspaces. Yours might be different, and that’s okay.
Every student is creative
The older students get, more and more of them will tell you they aren’t creative. It gets even worse with adults. But creativity is innate. It is in all of us. As we get older, though, it is neglected. Instead of seeing creative pursuits as something we all do (think about kindergartners and Playdoh) we begin to see creativity as something reserved for artists, designers and others pursuing creative careers or passions. But we ALL still have creativity inside of us. It just takes the right person, the right circumstances, to bring it out. And it manifests in different ways.
Makerspaces can help to bring out the creativity in EVERY student
Because you don’t have to want to be an artist to be creative. Tradespeople benefit from creativity. Professionals benefit from creativity. Human beings benefit from creativity. It is an important and vital trait for all of us. No matter what subject area a student may be most interested in, there is value in helping them to practice and explore their creativity. Frank Lloyd Wright learned spatial skills from playing with blocks as a child that later influenced his architecture. That’s a powerful example of the effect of creative experiences as a child.
Every student should have access to makerspaces
A makerspace shouldn’t only be a closed off lab just for the gifted kids. Or the STEM kids. Or classes where the teacher chooses to take them there. Makerspaces need to be accessible to ALL students in the school. Library makerspaces can be a great solution for this because EVERY student has access to the library (or at least they should. If they don’t, y’all need to work on that first). Another option could be making the makerspace such a part of the school culture that every class visits it at some point. But I especially love creating ways for students to choose to come to the space on their own terms.
Makerspaces should include student-voice and choice
Makerspaces can be fantastic for structured and curriculum-focused activities that support what students are learning in their classes. They are fantastic places to hold design challenges that strengthen students’ critical thinking skills. But it’s also important to allow for open-exploration and student choice in projects and pursuits. A good makerspace finds a way to balance these different learning opportunities for students.
It’s a journey, not a destination
None of what I’ve written here is meant to be a judgement on others. We are all at different places in our journeys. We all have to start somewhere. Maybe your makerspace is a table with coloring sheets right now. Or maybe the only way you could get your school to approve creating a makerspace was to make it closed-off and completely curriculum focused. That’s still giving students opportunities for creativity. That’s giving you the opportunity to show proof-of-concept. We don’t have to have “perfect” makerspaces right away. Just make some sort of opportunity for students to be creative. It can grow from there.
What is your philosophy on makerspaces? How does it affect your work?
1 thought on “The Renovated Learning Philosophy of Makerspaces”
He Diana; Karl here from Sydney. Love the site. Just discovered it. Been into Makerspaces for last 12 months. Although as a teacher of 7 to 12 yr olds, have had a wall devoted to Science (morphed into a museum of oddities) in my classrooms for last 10 years. Kids, parents continue to donate things. Should charge admission! I am a Digital Tech coordinator / teacher. 5 classes a day x 5 days a week. Your main website photo looks like you were looking over my shoulder! 90% exact. Primarily we are about Digital Tech. Ev3, WeDo, Microbits, plus assortment of other bots and processors. Computational Thinking is now the latest thing here in Australia last 12 to 18 months. I run a lunch time Makerspace club and also Science Club. After school robotics comp club also.
Just putting a submission together now for a $ scholarship – focus question of mine will centre on Makerspaces. So glad I found your site. I also am administrator for a couple of online communities here in New South Wales just for teachers. Makerspace and also a Robotics Community group. Education, Motivation and Information. Every key learning area a teacher will ever teach is part of the main umbrella of this website. Called Yammer.
Got to run. Will send you some pics of my space when I get a chance. If you have any info on top of the links you have on your site re; Education and Makerspaces…then fire them my way by all means. Thanks….Karl
PS; was about to start a Lego Build Wonder Wall..similar to yours. But been on the back burner for a while, whilst other projects took over. Now rekindled my spark. Off to shops tomorrow. Its painful though because I am adhering tiles to a beautiful big white board that stands 160cm across by 400cm up. Do have other smaller whiteboards in classroom. But if this whiteboard was turned into a table…..wow! Just need more space. Really need a double classroom.
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