How the Maker Movement is transforming Education

ThE MaKer MovEmeNt

Physical community of workspaces, called makerspaces continues to gain solidity and momentum: new opportunities created by faster prototyping and fabrication tools as well as easier source of materials and products already assembled online gave an idea of the increased effort for all kinds of people interested to share common goals and to explore this new and motivating “experimental play”.

Making is a source of innovation that open new question and new scenarios. Indeed, out of that process what emerge immediately, are new figures of technological applications an ideas that gain its form. By this active construction, close to the tradition of a constructionist process, makers are exploring what these things can teach to young and adults and what are the main concepts that they are learning while engaging with its principles. There is also an ethical reason why defend the idea that “human beings are creatures who need to make” is the supply for knowledge: since young age we need to be engaged in creative and stimulating experiences that are basic principles to develop a personal identity.

maker-space

Learning must be a successful pleasure for the referents and the referee. An experience that can foster knowledge and able to create, day after day and activity after activity, a resilient growing mindset, avoiding the fixing ones. The first academic researcher in this field that introduce this concept of fixed and growing mindsets was Carol Dweck, a Stanford psychology Professor. She studied how people with a growing mindset are not limited because they tend to believe that their capabilities can be developed, improved and expanded through time and lived experiences. They are used to go through these opportunities (yes, in fact they see even the extra practices and the most difficult exercises a way to know something more about the tiniest part of the subject they’ve theoretically learned. If they are good or not so at the beginning of this process is not their first though when they start to be involved in the activity) without asking themselves if they can control everything 100% perfectly, since the beginning of the engaging process. In comparison, a young with a fixed mindset avoid the risk that is connected with frustration, and this is certainly not good in a world that is is constant change and that not give so much time to think what variable is the better one when others look-like pretty similar…

Dweck’s growth mindset can give an idea of the main characteristics of a maker mindset, very close to a “can-do” attitude and that can be summarized with the motto:

What can you do with what you know?

This sentence invite to take the ideas you have and turn them into various kind of reality, even the courageous act to take a process that is familiar, deconstruct it in the tiniest parts that defines its structure and work on them singularly trying to implement or improve a single part of the “whole”. You can do that alone, for the first step of the making activity but then you’ll need to ask the help of others, enjoying that actually, cause you’ll learn something even only listening and observing the different abilities and ideas connected with the iterative process you’ll take part, improving it when the process of sharing is active and begin to truly recognize it as a compelling “social experience”.

I think that fostering this maker mindset through education is a fundamental “human project”, capable to allow the growth and the development of a children, a young and even who can be defined adult because despite the written age, everyone of these stakeholders live and desire moved by inner feelings and necessities that derives from a physical, mental, cultural and emotional needs. If what I’m saying can be though as true, as research is telling us, learning should focus on what is this “whole environment” that will define afterwards the level of knowledge and participation during the activities.

Living in a  “Technological Epoque” require new skills and a re-adaptation of learning curricula that can let young be passionate about the whole potential that technology can allow them:-) Not only be hypnotized by the vicious Facebook or Instagram accounts that define their moments and priorities of the day, such as the chats of the wonderful video-game they are so good at!

Which are the possibles “right recipes” then? How is characterized the balanced bond that different elements can have in the learning making and knowledge making scenes?

To achieve learning goals of this active knowledge construction and the natural logical learning within diverse members that have in common the interest and a strong connection with the community of makers, the activities must be designed to elicit student thinking and include sufficient time to analyze the vocabulary necessary to explain what is this object in front of them, finding what is the argument connected to it and how the future reflection around the activity or the single steps of the whole can be articulated  (I’m writing can and not have to because the subject need to recognize which are the elements that must be emphasized as the are the authentic symbols of the experimental game or the group activities).

In conclusion, integration is a key-word to balance the content and the practice learning goals, where each stakeholder must demonstrate some understanding of a fundamental core idea by applying this knowledge, matured and projected, clarifying the disciplinary practice that allow a proper iter of construction, and a sophisticated coordination of scientific and pedagogical practices that can underline and show the values of the “unexpected variable” when it arises… Maybe is this latest phenomena that let people be so enthusiast for the maker movement and its philosophy of  learning, refining the design of the experiments conducted and discuss with methodology not forgetting the amount of creativity needed to start a calibrated little modification at each test, that is the product of group reasoning on trade-offs on different form of possible productions.

What is important to have clear in mind is to maintain engagement with fundamental questions about our world and to have a vision, a glance, even for the complexity that define every beautiful subject of knowledge and human nature’s primary investigations.

 

LH

Some reflections on how increase meaningful reasoning on STEM

These days are very busy for all the protagonists of the schools: pupils, teachers, educators, directors, etc..It’s time for exam and final qualification and the young hearth of the interested students is thinking on how to conquer the best notes and the best present from their enthusiastic parents: some days of vacation with the sport team or scouts, a new drone (it seems quite appealing even for young), all sort of technological devices able to offer a full and long entertainment, concert tickets, and everything that now I am not completely fully aware of 😉
If you ask me, about my childhood during this specific calendar time antecedent summer, well, actually I was waiting this period since Easter vacations. Despite going through all the formal appointments required to have sufficient notes and be safe from parents judgements, I dedicated time to make my book reading list. But not the one full of novelties that I wanted to buy spending afternoons and monthly pocket money in Feltrinelli center stores. My list had the titles of all the books bought or borrowed that I wanted to read again with more peace and awareness, free from any external task to complete. The stories acquired a better shape, the details started to arise and the characters become richer in emotions.
Last week I was speaking with a friend that works as temporary teacher at school. “Things are very different now compared with the time we learned”, mostly because the attitude of the young is changed and the school evaluation became more complex. She told me that these little guys seems to be present with their body in the class, but their mind is far away, distant from the subject her and the colleagues tried to illustrate them with different modalities (upon which nothing seems to be more relevant in respect of the other) and its difficult catch their attention (because their full participation is utopia!) on lessons.
Beyond relevant fact explained by frontal exposition you can try to learn how to play with them, I suggested, and during this alternative time, perhaps they will feel that you want to engage in an interactive game. If you play good you can transfer knowledge, because with positive attitude you can enrich the learning environment and the setting of first curiosity and future interest.
– “Never underestimate young intelligence and sensitivity”, I allowed myself to say.
This statement arise from some experienced I had in education, but everyone can agree that young seem to be more reactive where the “setting” of their class is defined by energizers, dialogues on a specific topic, richer literacy activities.
For young students even only the fact to see a more engaging attitude of learning showed by their teachers, is a sort of elementary “waking up” from their mental blurred jam of first hours. Hey, the truth is that even teachers sensitivity and engagement must not be underestimated!
The educators of today are conscious and aware of the fact that students  increase their participation and interest onto the formal subject by learning actively. The main problem to address is that all the practices of active learning are not so commonly accepted by the institutional curriculum upon which notes and subjects annual programs refer to.
You can anticipate me, I know that! Other problems are the fact that ‘there is not enough time to experiment’; ‘they do not like to do the simplest tasks required, why do you should think that they’ll spend more time on extra ones?; ‘students  show all the times a dis-proportioned engagement. It’s a fact.’; until the everlasting classic: ‘in an informal context, we cannot follow common parameters to give them notes!’.
The so called ‘Active learning’ is defined by educational researchers as the kind of learning that requires students to engage cognitively and meaningfully with the materials, to get “involved with the information presented, deeply thinking about it (analyzing, synthesizing, evaluating) rather than just passively
receiving it. Thus, “active” students are considered to be cognitively “engaged” cognitively, capable to show a strong motivation and an emotional perspective on what they learn.
stem
When engagement is discussed in motivational terms, it tends to mean the precursor attitude or interest in getting involved with the learning materials.
Behavioral engagement refers generally to the notion of participating and addresses large-grained measures, such as how often students attend class or do homework, whereas emotional engagement encompasses measures of positive and negative reactions to teachers, classmates, academics, and so on.
Although there is some research on cognitive engagement, it emphasizes broad
notions such as thoughtfulness and willingness to exert the necessary effort to succeed and master complex skills and ideas.
When I talk on “learning activities” I am referring to the large collection of instructional or learning tasks from which teachers or educational designers
can choose for students to do (e.g. reading, understand math formulae, solving problems, design charts and diagrams, and so on).
Let me say something related to this point. First of all, I noted that almost every teacher wants to create activities that overcome the students ‘passive learning’ attitude. The problem is that just a few of them (that generally are defined by a more open minded and an integrated formation) reflect on the ‘how’ and ‘when’ to do it.
Perhaps the fact that teachers have few criteria to use in deciding which are the best ‘active learning’ activities to design and implement for their students, deeply influence their future actions. Third, there are no guidelines for teachers regarding how to best modify their favorite existing assignments in order to optimize ‘active learning’.
Pedagogues have tackled the challenge of creating more active learning environments, trying to have clear in mind that the first thing to do is to recognize main features of students learning environments, and just after start the reflections on how depict evidence from a variety of learning activities, domains, student ages and common trends enclosed in subjects.
These ones are the main frame of interested objects tied together.
A brightest image of one class is see the teacher design the schema and interconnections between these objects, in a way capable to rise the class interest. The eyes of the students are assimilating something that otherwise seemed repellent to their reasoning and curiosity.
Yes, actually this is the Hollywood’s scene for schools professionals! the mastery of the teacher in front of the whole class achieved the first inner desired success: their attention, their energy to think on bright questions, their pleasured genuine interest.
In effect, the principle of making things interesting means that subjects can be selected in relation to the child’s present experience, powers and needs.
It is also true that, sometimes, students not appreciate the relevance of the material presented and all its future relationships and values connected to what has already a strong significance in their lives.
So we can say, helped by Dewey reasoning, that making things interesting is bringing to consciousness the bearing of the new material which constitutes reality.
Here there are some criteria to sharp this preliminary framework:
– how far is one interest externally attached to another, or substituted for another?
– how far does the new appeal and can be a source of motivation?
– how things permeate one another?
– how find the interconnection between things that externally seems remote but if well bounded appears as ‘one’ beautiful set of knowledge?
To go over all that the person interested in doing something new in the actual panorama of education must wear the best suit that characterize a performer, capable to exhibit clearness and strong personal energy to transfer information to young minds. All these steps must take care of the environment and any sort of related failure will be part of the process where ideals can be re-shaped and implemented starting from the attention on particulars traits of young perception and their own interests development.
LH