What’s Missing in the Maker Movement
You can not be around education lately without hearing about the Maker Movement. I am in love with many elements of the Maker Movement, partly because I have two young boys who are enthralled with creating- everything from legos to catapults. They love technology and building things. I was recently inspired by an amazing use of technology to help a deaf musician “hear” her words. The video below shows a story by Katie Couric and the team at Not Impossible, who, according to their website, “makes DIY, accessible, tech-based solutions for people around the world, and then powerfully tells those stories to inspire others to do the same”. In this story, they were able to translate the music into impulses that would vibrate on different parts of the singer’s body so that she could feel/ “hear” the music.
What struck me about this story is the idea of using technology for the sake of humanity. Maker spaces, coding clubs and project-based learning are all of the rage right now in the education space. What this group does is add another element- and that is purpose. They seek purpose beyond completing an assignment to a broader purpose, one focused on using technology to help other people. I think this is what is missing in many maker movements. It is awesome to create, but when that learning is limited to the walls of the classroom, I question just how valuable it is in the long term.
Creating projects with outward purpose are harder to accomplish. When purpose goes beyond an assignment, more resources are needed and these become roadblocks that hold teachers and students back. Sometimes it’s a financial roadblock, a time issue or a knowledge issue that stands in the way of trying new things in the classroom. These roadblocks are just excuses. Reach out the experts in your building for they may be teaching right across the hallway and if that does not work, reach out to members of your community. Look online for help. Make connections. Seek out problems that need solutions. Above all, inspire and empower your students to take risks. Let them dream so big that they fail, but build up enough support around them to push on despite failures. Praise the risks before punishing the failures.
My 9 year old son told me on the way to school today, “Dad, for the first time in school, I feel my potential is being unleashed”. It is amazing what the right environment can do for your children. My heart is still smiling.