Why the ‘Maker Movement’ is Popular in Schools
By Tanya Roscorla Center for Digital Education
The maker movement is a global, DIY movement of people who take charge of their lives, solve their own problems and share how they solved them. And it’s growing in schools that are searching for more authentic learning experiences for their students.
Since the beginning of time, people have made things to solve problems and otherwise improve their quality of life. But previously, the amount of exposure individual projects received was limited. Now the Internet has driven projects into the limelight.
“These things that used to be isolated are now shared widely,” said Sylvia Libow Martinez, president of nonprofit education technology organization Generation YES and co-author of the book Invent to Learn. “And coupled with new technologies, that makes it possible for people to make things that are useful and practical.”
She shared an example of how this global movement works. A father in Italy makes a new hand part for his son, who lost his hand. He puts the design on the Internet, where someone from Iowa improves it, and someone in Africa decides to use it. Then a 3-D printer makes it possible to print a new hand out of melted plastic that’s extruded from the printer.
From kindergarten to second grade, students traditionally make things with playdough, legos and other objects. But somewhere along the way, the maker mindset has been lost in older grades, Libow Martinez said.
“It’s easy to blame the focus on tests, it’s easy to blame the focus on accountability and that sort of thing,” she explained. “But I think it’s something even more. I think we’ve kind of not been serious about keeping school viable for the modern world.”
And parents have been telling Libow Martinez that something needs to change. Their children play with legos for hours on end at home. But that creativity gets buried at school.
“School is killing my kid,'” she recalls them saying. “‘It’s killing their creativity, killing their intensity, killing their desire to put things together and be curious. Something’s gone terribly wrong when caring parents are saying school is killing their kid.'”
The article goes on to mention Vinnie Vrotny and the Quest Academy, Pam Moran, superintendent of Albemarle County Schools, and Tracy Rudzikis in New York City.
Pam says, “What we’re trying to do is to make this work go viral so that there is no school and no classroom setting where kids would not have these kinds of opportunities, because we consider it to be very effective pedagogy for kids in this century, kids in the last century and for kids going on into the future.”