Over the past few months, I have had the pleasure of running an after school MakerClub at my children's school. As amazing and rewarding as this experience was I have had a really hard time preparing this final reflection. If this Google Doc would have been a piece of notebook paper I would have crumpled it up a million times. Ironically, that is what I took away from the MakerSpace, the fact that it is OK to unfold that crumbled paper and start over. No one is watching me write this draft, no one is judging me, no one will give me a grade, and I have as much time as I need.
Week, after week, I watched the MakerClub kids create, teardown, redo, forget, start again, ask questions, try a different avenue, smile and laugh. In this space no one was watching to make sure they followed directions, no one was judging how their project looked compared to the next kid, no one was grading them, and no one was rushing them. And I bet, you could see more determination, drive, grit, and perseverance in that one hour each week than you would see all year in the classroom. However, that was not evident the first few weeks. The kids had a hard time just being told to "make"; they were a bit lost and looking for directions. All day they are told what to do and how to do it. This "space" in the school, where they were told to do as they pleased, with lots of materials, was a bit confusing for them (and some of us parents).
It’s by no means the teachers fault, they do their best each and every day to make learning meaningful, playful, and creative for our children (and still hold to standards, testing, and evaluation expectations). This is a systems problem. A system that needs a shift. A shift away from the industrial, conveyor belt, spoon feeding system to an inquiring, planning, creating, sharing, communicating, and reflecting system. I am not suggesting that every day should (or can) be filled with cardboard, glue, and popsicle sticks. What I am driven to do is help educators, and stakeholders recognize how to make a shift and keep in meaningful.
“Classrooms could once again become places of great joy, creativity, and invention.”
-Invent to Learn