The World is a Makerspace, Not a Classroom

We carry inside us the wonders we seek outside us.

 — Rumi

I have wanted to write about this idea for a few weeks, but just was not sure how to properly format the thoughts and still not sure I am going to do it justice. Here is my feeble attempt before I lose all my thoughts.

I love making. I am an avid tinkerer and have the typical coffee juiced brain where I have a million projects going on and typically don’t finish half of them. I love to create and my brain is always going. I am not sure what would happen if my brain actually slowed down. I have massive LEGO sets and pieces that we build at home and at school(see school challenge), I love Arduino, Sphero, and lately 3D printing.

Naturally, I am working on developing a makerspace in my room. I feel like we need a space like this since the days of industrial tech are no more in our schools. It does not replace the class, but it is something more than desk in rows reading textbooks.

As I have worked to develop this culture of making in our school I realize that not only do I have a long way to go, but I keep missing the students I want. I want more girls involved, I want the athletic kids, I want the kids that don’t believe in themselves.

And then I realized my whole though process is wrong. My mindset was skewed.

Let me try to explain. This summer like every summer Amanda(my wife) has a list of home improvements. We did not get to half of them, but we did get our bedroom done and moved and changed things throughout the house. One thing that she is amazing at doing is drawing inspiration from her hours on Pinterest and converting the ideas into our home. She can see a bit of an idea here and another idea there and see a wall in our house and transform it. It is a gift. I cannot do it. I see what is in the room and cannot see differently.

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She has done three little projects that hit me like a ton of bricks this summer. She does not give herself any credit and really does not think it is a big deal. She is actually not too happy that I took pictures. I always tell her she needs her own board on Pinterest so she can inspire others.

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Here is the key idea: She is a maker. She has taken ideas which is basically the MIT Remix concept and instead of just thinking about it and pinning it on her page, she moved to action. This is the pivotal step. Moving to ACTION and not just THINKING about it. She goes to work. She takes this and that, paints this, moves this, transforms this, and in the end we have this whole new display and decoration. It really is great.

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As I was watching this unfold I came across a great post by Rafranz Davis –http://rafranzdavis.com/the-undefined-makerspace/ where she talks about makerspaces and how we don’t need this defined makerspace to make. We make all the time.

Watching my wife work I realized that we are indeed all makers. Just because it does not include a soldering iron and robotics does not mean it is not “maker”. It is sad that we have to celebrate makerspaces to draw attention to the lost art of being a kid and instilling that spirit to continue to play and tinker to see what happens.

I draw inspiration from my wife because I could probably do more ACTION. Her home is her makerspace. It is great. It is amazing and beautiful.

In education we need to take off the lens in which we view our students, our classrooms, and schools. I think we get pigeoned holed into a tunnel vision where we miss out on the amazing things that students are doing. They are making a difference. They are learning outside of the school day even if they did not turn in your worksheet. They are volunteering and helping others even if they push their friends in play. Sometimes we must remove the veteran mindset and try to see things again as if it is the first time. When we do that we will see that the world is a makerspace and we can all make amazing things. I have changed my view of makers and I hope you do too.

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11 thoughts on “The World is a Makerspace, Not a Classroom

  1. Thanks for your article. I’d like to focus on this quote about your wife. You wrote, ” One thing that she is amazing at doing is drawing inspiration from her hours on Pinterest and converting the ideas into our home. She can see a bit of an idea here and another idea there and see a wall in our house and transform it.”

    I’ve followed articles about vocational education where writers tell about youth who were not motivated by traditional school, but once they got into an apprenticeship and saw how they needed math skills to do their work, became more motivated to learn the skill.

    Your wife and these students are motivated to learn, because of something they want to do. If schools relate real-world applications to learning and motivation, then more young people might learn to apply the same process as your wife, using the Internet, the local Library, their peers and teachers as resources to help them find ideas to do whatever they want to do.

    In my case, I want to see more volunteer-based non-school tutor/mentor programs available in big cities of the US. I’ve created an extensive web library at http://www.tutormentorexchange.net which is available for people who are motivated to build and sustain mentor-rich learning opportunities for youth in high poverty areas (or anyplace else). Finding ways to motivate more adults to dig into this information on a regular basis is one of the reasons I keep participating in MOOCs and similar forums.

  2. Aaron, We have to do more stuff together. I am one of those fading away Industrial Tech. programs and I salute you for integrating some of these concepts in your class. I know I posted this before but you have to read “Shop class is Soul craft.” or… when I “read” it for the second time, I got the audio book.
    I would like to know what your students use to design with your 3d printer. I just purchased one at the end of the school year and I would like to know what works for you.

  3. Another thought on maker spaces. I think too often people put together “maker spaces” to do a specific project or projects. To me a maker space is where we can be inspired to create. For your wife, it is Pintrest. It provides the tools and materials she needs to Make.
    The article you referenced talked about a boy who liked to make puppets. I have 2 makers spaces, my garage and my classroom. I would only need to add materials he needed and he would be right at home. Maker spaces are also about community and using each other as resources. If he needed eyes for his puppet, he could sketch it out and have someone else make it for him.

  4. Thanks for the info. I think we must to think and be like a kid because all the kids do what they want and don’t afraid of failure.. Sometimes be a kid is the best thing ever.

  5. I am right there with you. I am trying to find ways to have my daughters immerse in tinkering and creating here at home. I appreciate your courage to share your thoughts with the world.

  6. Thank you for your article. It so closely mirrors my own thinking about the maker movement. I love the idea of creating and having an idea that you see through to fruition, but have struggled with how to make in organic to our class and not a segmented part of the day.

        • I followed you a little last year and shared your work with the seventh grade team. You also had an author come and speak to your class and I know they were using his/her book. Anyway, they had a range of experiences. I tended to be a resource for the team and the students. We share all the same students so they were able to access all of my resources as well as what they had in their block classes.
          I am not sure if you have your students all day but in our school students have Block (reading, writing and social studies) for half the day and then math, science and electives.

  7. Tell your wife the spaces she made are fantastic. I had many projects planned for the summer but also did not get half of them done. This is a great post. I agree that makerspaces don’t need to be tailored to specific makes. Just Make. Seing things through fresh eyes is an insightful reminder.