Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Dangerous Child Can Make Things

Modern schooling has very little to do with true education. The graduates of modern government schools may be better suited for collecting lifetime unemployment or disability checks, than for making their own independent way in life. is not preparation for life; education is life itself. _John Dewey

Rather than turning children on to make things, fix things, understand the universe they live in by way of immersion -- schools isolate children from the real world and from meaningful participation or responsibility in the world.

Dale Dougherty, publisher of Make Magazine, has a different attitude about what education should be:
As the publisher of Make magazine and Maker Faire, I find Dewey’s views refreshing and relevant. I see the power of engaging kids in science and technology through the practices of making and hands-on experiences, through tinkering and taking things apart. Schools seem to have forgotten that students learn best when they are engaged; in fact, the biggest problem in schools is boredom. Students sit passively, expected to absorb all the content that is thrown at them without much context. The context that’s missing is the real world.

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.

...“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.

This kind of conversation is the core of Maker Faire. Makers bring what they’ve made and share it with others. They answer questions and explain how things work. They get feedback and meet others who have insights into what they’ve made. We might consider it a performance-based assessment, just like what happens in the work world.

As I walked around the middle school with the principal, we were looking at rooms that could be used to create a maker space for students. We walked into an empty room that once was the metal shop. It was perfect. I could imagine it having tools and materials and workbenches. I could imagine groups of curious kids being active, social, and mobile. She said her students would be very happy. “They never get asked to create anything,” she told me. _Slate

The more things a child can make, repair, and understand, the more dangerous the child.

It is never too late to have a dangerous childhood.

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