Over the past year, teachers can’t miss the hype around “Maker Spaces”. This movement is featured in trade magazines, presentations at conferences, and thousands of social media posts. Making is a trait that makes us human. Schools today need to re-embrace making as part of their curriculum.
Sadly somewhere in the 1990’s or early 2000’s school lost sight of their making traditions in search of higher test scores and in budget crunches. By the late 1970’s making was a core part of our schools. Most districts engaged students in some form of industrial arts: from Auto Mechanics to Woods Shop to Home Economics students had making options at school. As the United States lost industrial jobs to overseas, products became cheaper to buy new than replace. By the late 1990’s a testing and college ready culture perforated our school systems along with budget cuts. Making classes were the first things to go.
Being a maker is a career skill! Most companies do one of three things (if not all 3): Make a product, market a product and service a product. If we teach our students to make products their will have mastered an valuable skill. By being makers our students gain skills most textbooks do not teach. Some making skills are:
- Identify a problem that needs to be addressed by a product
- Work as a team member
- Design a product to address the problem
- Budget and gather materials to build prototype
- Assemble and test prototype
- Communicate results
- Analyze prototype and redesign
- Mass produce product
- Meet Deadlines and stay in budgets
These making skills are needed in our workplaces today. Many employers look for this practical knowledge over college degrees when hiring today. Shouldn’t schools be developing practical work skills and experiences?
Our students need to be making things in every class, as often as possible. Most elementary schools encourage students as makers by doing crafts that connect to their curriculum. Art programs also seem to inspire students into making. By the time students make it to middle school most of these maker activities loose way to test preparation and core academic work. Making needs to occur in all subject areas on a regular basis.
Many teachers are discouraged about making due to the price tag that seems to come with it. Don’t be! Making can be done with cardboard collected at the local grocery store. Sure you can buy tons of cool making kits like “Little Bits” or “Tinker Create” but making has been done since the beginning of time with things found in nature. YES, we all want the cool bells, whistles and lights but making is an essential life skill that needs to be taught in schools. Make it happen on what ever budget.
As my friend Todd Beard says: “Hands on, minds on!”
Move making back into your curriculum! Our Kids Deserve it.