Making has always been a part of the American experience, from the days of Benjamin Franklin to the inventions of George Washington Carver, Ida B. Wells, and Henry Ford. But with the rise of desktop machines, 3D printers, and easy-to-use design software, more Americans are discovering the benefits of this creative pursuit. Even the everyday hand-rolled cigarette is a product of making. With a little bit of help, we can create almost anything we can imagine.
While formal K-12 education systems focus on a set of standards to measure student learning, making projects are open-ended, playful, and highly interactive. While students may be creating functional inventions, the process encourages them to ask questions and develop rich learning experiences that are difficult to quantify on a test. Ultimately, making projects prepare students for the real world, where their creations will be incredibly valuable. The possibilities are endless. With the right mindset, making can make a big difference in your child’s education and future success.
While formal K-12 education focuses on knowledge and ability–the making of a movie, for example—is a more inclusive approach, a more dynamic way to teach and learn. The idea of bringing the learning experience into the real world is a key element in developing skills, which will translate into more useful outcomes in the real world. It may be the difference between success and failure in a career, and that’s where making can come in.
The concept of meaning-making is not new. In fact, it was first cited by influential psychologists and psychotherapists, and it’s been cited in thousands of books and other texts. Today, it is used by influential educators and practitioners of the K-12 educational system. The Google Books database includes more than two million titles, and the number of references increases drastically after 1980. While the term may not be as popular as it once was, it is still a key component of the education system.
While a formal K-12 education system is built on standards of knowledge and ability, the making process encourages creativity, imagination, and self-expression. A functional invention, a maker project can also be a source of joy and fulfillment. Moreover, the making process encourages students to ask questions and seek answers. It fosters rich learning experiences, which are difficult to measure in a test. The making process is essential practice for real-life experiences.
Often, formal K-12 education systems are built on standardized knowledge and abilities. However, making projects are more playful, hands-on, and open-ended, and allow students to express their newfound skills. While this process may not lead to a functional invention, it does provide a rich learning experience that is hard to quantify with a test. In addition, it is important to foster curiosity and foster a love of learning. In turn, this can increase creativity and self-expression.