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.
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.