I have been learning about Maker Spaces for years. I have seen presentations about really effective Maker Spaces in public libraries, through maker groups, in Maker Faires and I understand the excitement around this hands on learning experience. I remember when I heard Neil Gershenfeld, from MIT speak about FAB LAB and I was excited! (video below) It connects to my experience in a big way. I come from a family of trades people who learned their trades through apprenticeship developed by trade guilds in the United Kingdom. Here comes the but…
I am having a problem connecting the wow factor of Maker Space activity to deep, embedded learning that is connected to curriculum with explicit learning outcomes. There I’ve said it.
I am a Teacher Librarian in a Secondary School and I will be honest, it is challenging to get teachers to understand the value of working with me as a co-planner, co-teacher, collaborative teaching and learning partner. Whenever I get the opportunity to work with my colleagues I must ensure that student learning outcomes, connected to curriculum are being addressed. Yes, Maker Space activities do help to differentiate learning for our hands on learners, but good teachers do this in their classroom practice all the time! I have to wonder why are Maker Spaces now being explored with such urgency and excitement?
Those of you who know me that I am a bit of a tech geek and I have always been an early adopter of technology. I do have some caveats however, the technology must be purposeful and must fulfill a need I have for my own learning, or that of my students. Do Maker Spaces do this?
I would like to say that the idea of Maker Space has been embraced by effective teachers through time. Beginning with trade Guilds in Europe, evolving to apprenticeship training, for myself, in education through effective hands on learning experiences differentiated to meet the needs of all of my learners. As a Teacher Librarian, I feel that the same rules apply. I worry that Teacher Librarians are looking for ways to appear relevant in a time when school districts and the province are looking for areas to cut corners. So here I go, tech geek that I am, questioning this very cool idea of the Maker Space.
Teacher Librarians and all educators have the ultimate Maker Spaces, they are classrooms. In these spaces we create knowledge and how we do that relies upon the expertise we have to differentiate learning to meet the many and varied needs of our students.
I like the cool tools and ideas suggested in the Maker movement but when connected to the School Library Learning Commons I need to understand how Teachers and Teacher Librarians work together to develop ideas, use the Maker Space to apply the learning and then help the learners embed this learning in their understanding of curricular outcomes. Without this connection to our expertise as educators, are we not just providing an activity centre?