Makerspace thoughts

I love the idea of Makerspaces. But I am still struggling a bit with the ‘what’, the ‘why’ and the ‘how’. To figure things out I am listening to this excellent Cult of Pedagogy podcast: What is the Point of a Makerspace? In it I think John Spencer gives the best description I have heard yet of the challenges our students will face when they graduate from school, and how a maker mindset can help them be prepared:

There was a time when you could follow the formula: Work hard at school, go to college, and climb a corporate ladder. But because of the complex global economy, because of the creative economy, the information economy, our students are going to have to navigate a maze. The ladder is now a maze. And because it’s a maze, what do they need in order to navigate that? They need to be able to engage in iterative thinking, creative thinking, critical thinking, they need to know how to pivot, how to change, how to revise, how to persevere. They need to solve complex problems. They need to think divergently. All of those are involved in that maker mindset. And so if you can embed that maker mindset inside of the curriculum, and you tap into the standards that you’re teaching, then they’re able to develop that maker mindset. The space is just the platform that facilitates it.

I also liked the way he described the process of kids learning robotics and programming, and the way he emphasizes that creativity can only happens once kids are comfortable with the new technology:

Robotics is a good opportunity to learn programming and to learn logic. A piece of creativity that people forget is that there is often a shift from awareness to consuming into copying into modifying into full scale creativity. We need to let kids walk through this process.

They also made a cool connection with the way we teach kids to read:

That’s exactly how I teach kids to read and write. We read a lot in the genre, then we break it apart, then you do a lot of scaffolding, and eventually they are able to write their own thing.

Finally, I found the link made between programming and understanding complex systems a useful one:

When students learn how to program a robot vs just build they are learning language and logic together, which allows them to become systems thinkers. And when they are great systems thinkers they can navigate complexity.

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