Updated: Jun 24, 2019
The Maker Education Revolution began in makerspaces across the world over 10 years ago. But this grassroots DIY movement, already popular in the US, is gaining traction in the UK – particularly in relation to how we think about educating our children. Maker education is a hands-on approach to learning that creates opportunities to develop creative confidence while fostering interest and expertise in particular disciplines.
1. Developing problem-solving skills
Whether working with basic materials or complex tools or technology, problem solving and critical thinking are key to the making process. Making allows children the flexibility to approach a problem in a variety of possible ways. It also lends itself to constant iteration as they continually test and improve their creations. As children increase their experience of problem solving and reflect on this, they begin to build a set of skills that allow them to approach new problems confidently.
2. Allowing creativity and innovation
There are few opportunities as a child to work completely creatively for an extended period of time anymore. The constraints of the school day and curriculum, and families' busy home lives can mean that the opportunities to create from scratch are lost. Sir Ken Robinson famously said in 2006 that creativity is as important as literacy, yet it is often overlooked in schools in favour of children getting things 'right'. Through creativity and making, children learn that if they can imagine something, they can make it and they begin to see themselves as more than just passive consumers.
3. Encouraging collaboration and communication
Making is not an individual pursuit. When children are solving problems and following the creative process, they are doing so together. By working in groups with a shared goal and focus, both collaboration and communication become integral to their process. Through this experience, they implicitly learn ways to work most effectively as a team. Furthermore, as children share and celebrate their ideas with others, they are practicing communicating clearly for an authentic purpose.
4. Promoting a growth mindset
Carol Dweck's theory of growth mindset describes the belief that some people have about intelligence and learning. She proposed that when students believe they can get better or improve their performance, they understand that effort makes them stronger. They begin to see failure as a chance to learn and are less afraid to make mistakes as part of the learning process. Making will often expose children to new disciplines in which they may initially struggle. Through persistence and practice, they start to see how their hard work leads to improved capability within that discipline. They understand that if they aren't prepared to get things wrong, they'll never come up with anything original. This growth mindset transfers to other areas, and research has shown that promoting a growth mindset can lead to improvements in academic performance.
5. Learning new skills
Maker education can include many different skills: physical construction projects, robotics, electronics, coding, 3D printing, woodwork, and media, to name just a few. The opportunities are limitless and children can identify their own individual interests and aptitudes. Alongside this opportunity to spark a passion, the process of learning each new skill is important in itself. In our rapidly-changing world, learning to learn may be one of the most important competencies for future adults. The 21st century workplace holds many unknowns over the next 10-20 years. Giving children today the opportunity to learn and apply new skills, builds the type of flexibility and adaptability that will be so important in their futures.
Why not let your children have a go and see the benefits for yourself? Find out more about Inventors & Makers classes happening in Ealing and West London.