29 April 2016

Is "Makerspace" Another Learning Silo?

The principles of design, engineering and iteration that students get to practice in maker environments is invaluable - I get it.

What worries me some is I sense in the rush to get grant money for the next big thing, schools are rushing to put in makerspaces like they're just another elective that the creative students can go to, but might not be for everyone.

When we install the MAKERSPACE room or turn our libraries into them (which I'm more okay with, because it blends information space with design space with collaborative space), don't we run the risk of just building another silo in which kids compartmentalize their experiences? On the flip-side, if teachers know that kids will be able to do _____ in "makerspace," doesn't that give an escape clause to anyone who wants to maintain a more traditional lecture-practice-test-repeat classroom?

I love the way my friend +Manuel Herrera is developing his space at Affton High School, "Room 15" because while it has maker elements included, it's still a learning space first. Making is something that happens alongside other work, and students and staff and come in and try on the room for activities unrelated to "making" at all.

Because I love to see interdisciplinary approaches WHENEVER and WHEREVER possible, I would much sooner advocate a school invest in a few pimped out maker-carts if they're looking to buy and put together a bunch of maker-stuff. It loses the design-collaborative space aspect that makes Room 15 so special, but gives many more opportunities for teachers to practice making and engaging in design challenges.

What do you think - if you have to choose how to start, is it better to focus on carts and spread the opportunity in your school, or have a dedicated "makerspace" that serves as a model space for students AND teachers to learn about design?

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Thanks for sharing!