Future Tense: Learning by Making
Maker-in-Chief Dale Dougherty takes his arguments for building, tinkering, exploration and learning-by-doing in a Slate Future Tense article
Each year at Maker Faire in the Bay Area, we have an Education Day, when kids get to meet makers and see their creative projects. The kids interact with robots, rockets, and all kinds of contraptions. They get to make things themselves. One comment I hear from kids was that the experience was “real.” It’s a telling comment, because so many kids have come to see school as isolated and artificial, disconnected from the community.
The maker movement has the opportunity to transform education by inviting students to be something other than consumers of education. They can become makers and creators of their own educational lives, moving from being directed to do something to becoming self-directed and independent learners. Increasingly, they can take advantage of new tools for creative expression and for exploring the real world around them. They can be active participants in constructing a new kind of education for the 21st-century, which will promote the creativity and critical thinking we say we value in people like Steve Jobs.
At an educational workshop where I made my case for making, there were a number of rather skeptical educational bureaucrats who kept asking how we assess or measure something that’s experiential. How do we measure engagement? I was rather frustrated, to be honest. How do we know children are learning if we can’t test it? I put it back to them: “How do we know what we’re testing is real learning?”
I continued to think about the questions for several months. Then one day I had it in a sentence. “Making creates evidence of learning.” The thing you make—whether it be a robot, rocket, or blinking LED—is evidence that you did something, and there is also an entire process behind making that can be talked about and shared with others. How did you make it? Why? Where did you get the parts? Making is not just about explaining the technical process; it’s also about the communication about what you’ve done.
Read the full article at Slate Future Tense
Published June 04, 2012