School isn’t about the facts you learn, it is about gaining experience as a learner. The more diverse the experiences, the more prepared you are for future challenges. This has been famously measured with kids that learn to play a musical instrument. They perform better in all other classes.
As much as diverse experiences help our students, homogeneous classrooms harm them. For the past few decades, standardization has done this to our classrooms. Each subject has so many standards to cover that there is no way to give them the attention they need. There is only way to cover content fast enough and that is lectures, notes, and memorization.
The topic of standardized testing is going to pop up from time to time in this book. I would avoid the topic except for the huge impact it has had on our education system. All the decisions in schools are influenced by testing. It is unavoidable.
For decades now, standardization took over classrooms. Standardized tests started to rule the roost. How our classes are taught started to homogenize. Each subject has so many standards to cover. High stake testing as the only measure of a teacher’s impact that is published and dissected. It is no wonder that the students in my charter school job told me that their last school was “pretty much math and reading all day”. These were the tests that decided if that school was a success or failure.
Maker education provides a very diverse experience for our students. The problems that maker students have to solve are a direct result of the choices they recently made. So many times a careless decision had cascading consequences later in my classroom. Sometimes restarting a project is the best option. Sometimes quitting on a project is the right call. Certain resources are more helpful than others, depending on the kid.
There is no way to list all the different kinds of choices, lessons, tricks, and results that our kids will experience. It is clear to me that kids are better for having these experiences. The knowledge our kids gain isn’t testable and the learning is messy and nonlinear. A realization while creating can change their lives.
Through all this messy learning, they start making better plans. They learn from their mistakes and then anticipate them. Students learn about themselves and impress themselves. The experience of making itself is at the core of maker education.