Education students investigate the practice of learning through making

William Woods EDU

As a culture of innovation and DIY (do-it-yourself) continues to grow in our country and the Maker Movement gains momentum, we examine how educators can take this new learning model and integrate it into their classrooms.

“The Maker Movement is rediscovering learning by doing,” says Dale Dougherty, one of the founding fathers of the Maker Movement, and founder of Make Magazine and the Maker Faire, a national event where innovative thinkers gather to invent and create.

Making teaches students to find a solution using the resources available to them. It gives opportunity for trial and error.

Tracy Rudzitis works at The Computer School in New York City, where over 50 sixth through eighth grade students gather during lunchtime in the school’s Maker Space, to build, design, program and explore new solutions through making.

This space and others like it vary greatly from the project-based learning format many teachers typically use, where they give students a formula to follow, the tools that can be used and a standardized outcome they should be striving for.

One of Rudzitis’ students emphasizes the formative power in discovering an idea, or solution on your own, explaining in an article with Scholastic that time spent in the Maker Space at her school “helps us understand what we are capable of.”

“I really believe the core idea of making is to have an idea within your head — or you just borrow it from someone — and begin to develop it and iterate it and improve it… That thing that you make is valuable to you and you can share it with others,” said Dougherty in an interview with NPR. “I’m interested in how these things are expressions of that person, their ideas, and their interactions with the world.”

The challenge teachers face with integrating making into curriculum is not letting structure overtake freedom for creativity. By confining making to the rigid rules of an assignment, telling students how and what to make, you defeat the purpose of making — reducing the opportunity for students to use their full creative imagination and problem-solving skills.

“If your goal is to have standardized approaches to learning, where everybody learns the same thing at the same time in the same way, then learning by doing doesn’t really fit that mold anymore. It’s not the world of textbooks. It’s not the world of testing.”

The power of bringing making into the classroom as part of your teaching model is that students get to build off their interests and explore their capabilities. This approach is not focused on generating specific results or creating outstanding products, but simply creating better learners and problem solvers.

In an upcoming Look Into Education blog, we will look at a few tips and resources William Woods education students can use to bring learning through making into their future classrooms.

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