A few weeks ago I posted about our school’s plan to inspire a “maker” culture with our staff and students. The addition of makerspaces to public libraries and school library learning commons is spreading rapidly throughout the library community.
Yet I struggled with excitement and doubt. My excitement seemed obvious – the chance to offer hands on experiences for students that were not directly connected to the curriculum or in need of constant evaluation. My doubt may have been less obvious but growing in strength – creeping each time I tried to explain the maker movement to others, my growing concern that the term “maker” might place pressure on students to complete projects rather than foster thinking, creativity and problem-solving, and the unsettling feeling that the whole thing might be a trendy bust!
This week I have faced both my joyful anticipation and nagging fear head on. Our approach to gathering student voice in planning a long term makerspace was to run an exploration event with a wide variety of experiences for every class to visit. Over a 4 day period each class has approximately 80 minutes to play, explore, and create. Graffiti walls, pictures and video evidence in addition to conversations and observations are being used to gather information to guide future planning.
We have only had 2 days so far and I cannot even begin to tell you what an amazing experience it has been! Students spanning a wide age range (K to grade 7) have passed through our library learning commons and tech lounge doors with open hearts and minds. Together with their educators they have played, explored and created. Moreover, they have taken risks, collaborated, asked questions, encouraged each other, taken on leadership roles, demonstrated respect for peers, staff and materials… a list that could go on and on! The best part for our school vision is that they have consistently asked for more.
The best part for me is that I have the privilege of seeing, yet again, that placing our trust in children of all ages to learn and inquire through play and experience is the most powerful tool an educator can use.