We’re all makers

I couldn’t decide which TED talk to share today – Bill Gates talking about state budgets and accounting tricks or Dale Dougherty, founder of MAKE Magazine, talking about makers.  It’s almost the end of the week so I opted for something more fun.  Dougherty’s enthusiasm is great.  The essence of his talk can be boiled down to these key points:

  • All of us are makers – we don’t just live, we create things.
  • Makers tend to love the process – often times, makers don’t even know exactly why they are doing it. 
  • Makers are in control.  Essentially, they want to figure out how things work and use it for their own purpose.
  • Makers play with technology.
  • Children are particularly interested in making and have a knack for tinkering.  Through making, they shape and re-shape their world.
  • Likewise, schools should nourish makers.

A couple of thoughts I had after watching – the whole notion of ‘making’ relates nicely to the constructivist learning theory and project-based learning.  Educators know that students learn through doing.  However, I wonder if, in education, there is too much focus on the end product and not enough focus on the process.  Sure, we always try and ‘capture’ the process through checklists, reflections, journals, etc. but those elements so often seem of less importance then the final product.  When really it is during the process that all the ‘good stuff’ happens – the problem-solving, the creativity, the aha! moments, the conflict, the tension… Experiencing all of that is the real learning for the student but as a teacher do we miss a lot of it?  And, does our focus on the end product train students to only value the end result?