The idea of Maker Culture and hacking education is an interesting one to me. As a kinesthetic learner myself, the idea of making things and finding new ways to look at things in the classroom is something that i wish there had been more of when I was in school. One of the articles I’ve read comes from edutopia.com and it discusses a private school in Manhattan that has a Maker program built into the curriculum where students are encouraged to just create and explore. They’re hardly ever given instructions, but instead freedom to make mistakes and to get creative. A reoccurring theme in Maker culture, especially in education is to not let the students feel afraid to try. Anne Balsamo, a Media Studies professor and researcher, talked about the idea of tinkering in videos and articles posted on her website designingculture.net. According to Balsamo, “tinkering involves strategies of improvisation and iteration.” Tinkering encourages the ideas of open-ended possibilities and pushing ideas past their original context. I think that this idea of tinkering is really important in education because I think it gets lost when teachers are teaching to the test and putting all the emphasis on the right answer. I think this makes students scared to try to push the boundaries and limits of ideas.
As much as I like the idea of Maker programs, my problem with this system is that in many ways Maker culture seems like a privileged experience. Of course a private school in Manhattan can have a Maker program built into the curriculum because they have private funding and don’t have to worry about following the same standards as public schools. A low-income public school is going to have a harder time building something like this into its curriculum because they’re going to have less funding and are more likely to spend their money on basic resources and keeping their students engaged in the normal materials. I would love for Maker culture to be available for everyone because I think there is such great value in having students learn by doing and losing the fear of making mistakes that our education system so frequently reinforce. My other issue with Maker culture is that it’s difficult to find non-technological maker movements. I love to make things and put random things together and see what happens, but I don’t have that big a love of science and technology and unfortunately that seems to be a big part of maker culture. I had a hard time finding articles about making with everyday materials or just not tech based materials. But this brought up an interesting question in our group discussion: does what you make have to functional? And if it’s not does that just make it art? I’m not sure if we’ve found the answer to this yet but I want to keep exploring this idea.