Making Thinking Happen review of Invent To Learn

Making Thinking Happen is the official blog space of the Agency by Design project—an initiative sponsored by the Abundance Foundation that is exploring ideas at the intersection of the maker movement, design thinking, and Project Zero frameworks.

The “What We’re Reading” post recently reviewed Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom.

As we have noted previously, there are many roads to take to bring making and design to learners. Those who want to explore the avenue of engineering and programming in relation to making and tinkering in the classroom are in capable hands with Sylvia Libow Martinez and Gary Stager, authors of Invent to Learn. Within this incredibly comprehensive text, Martinez and Stager present a compelling argument that the time is ripe for maker-/design-based learning.

Amazing new tools, materials, and skill turn us all into makers. Using technology to make, repair, or customize the things we need brings engineering, design, and computer science to the masses . . . . Fortunately for educators, this “maker movement” overlaps with the natural inclinations of children and the power of learning by doing. The active learner is at the center of the learning process, amplifying the best tradition of progressive education. (p. 2)

Invent to Learn includes chapters on the history of the maker movement, learning theory, teaching tactics, materials and space recommendations, helpful step-by-step how-to sections, and lists, upon lists, upon lists of additional resources and suppliers of inexpensive materials. There is even an advocacy chapter that presents educators with a host of model language regarding what to say, what not to say, and what to say in response to pesky naysayers who may challenge the development of maker curriculum or makerspaces within their schools or afterschool programs.

Agency by Design is a a multi-year research and development initiative at Project Zero, a research organization at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The research is looking to find answers to questions like: What does it mean to see the world like a designer? What is “maker thinking?” What kinds of thinking dispositions characterize a tinkerer?

The review concludes:

As researchers working for the Agency by Design initiative we are charged with considering design and maker learning experiences in relationship to existing Project Zero frameworks. One of the deep resonances between Invent to Learn and our project is that the book uses many of these frameworks to build an argument for bringing maker experiences to young people. Further resonance can be found in the frequent references to agency and empowerment—two core themes of our project—that Martinez and Stager make throughout the text.

This kind of research is incredibly important if making is to make an impact in every classroom, every subject area, and every grade level. We are incredibly honored that Agency by Design found that our book resonates with their important and lofty goals.

Please read the entire review!