Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Makerspace: it’s all in the doing

This past week I attended a webinar entitled, “Creating a Makerspace Culture,” sponsored by Booklist and Cherry Lake Publishing.  Before you groan and say, “Not another webinar!” I will tell you that this one was really great. Yes, the authors from the sponsoring publisher focused on their books, but their books covered the multi-faceted aspects of this current hot trend.

Makerspace is a movement that is similar to DIY, but the focus is on the process, not the product. This is not a new concept, for sure. In education, embracement of process over product has gone in and out of fashion. The difference here is that the movement, by its very nature has to be about the process.

Here’s the concept: Give kids a bunch of materials, a place to work, and then let them create. If they need a bit of direction, it is gently given, but no step-by-step instructions are involved. Even kids with a very keen attachment to procedures can be coaxed into allowing themselves the freedom to pursue their own design. Materials can be from any discipline: Digital technology, sculpture, handy-crafts, writing, pretty much anything that you have an interest in is ideal for a Makerspace.

Makerspace Culture is all about giving kids permission to be self-directed, something I’ve encouraged in my arts and crafts programming for years, and I am excited about it. Our own maiden voyage into offering Makerspace sessions is happening soon. From the beginning it has been a collaborative process and that is another wonderful thing about this movement: it can inspire collaboration even among grown-up colleagues.

So let’s get out there and make stuff, and as a wise fictitious teacher has often said, “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!” What a good suggestion Miss Frizzle!

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