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Why educators can learn a lot from Makers

Writing for KQED, Katrina Schwartz asks Dale Dougherty, editor of Make Magazine, if the notion of DIY and hands-on learning will ultimately make its way into mainstream classrooms.

Image Credit: New York Hall of Science/Maker Faire

“Most of the people that I know who got into science and technology benefited from a set of informal experiences before they had much formal training,” Dougherty replied.

“And I mean, like building rockets in the backyard, tinkering, playing with things. And that created the interest and motivation to pursue science.”

According to Dougherty, the spirit of play and discovery of knowledge is missing from much of formal education, with students lacking access to appropriate DIY tools and strategies.

“Schools haven’t changed, but the students have. They don’t come with these experiences,” he explained.

“Even at the university level we’re choosing talent based on math scores, not on capabilities and demonstrated abilities.”

However, Dougherty says he is hopeful that events like the recent White House Maker Faire will help accelerate a movement that accepts maker-style self-directed learning in schools.

“I think kids are going to be the drivers of change in this. They’re going to be the ones asking for this, and asking if their parents can support them in this,” he concluded.

“The key idea here that I’ve promoted is I want people to see themselves as producers, not just consumers. I’d like to see it become a capability that we use in home life and at work and that we’re proud of it, where we see ourselves as having these powers to do stuff.”

The full text of “Can the Maker Movement Infiltrate Mainstream Classrooms?” is available here on KQED.