I read a quote in the Education Review Office (2014) report that made me mad.
"New Zealand prides itself on its child-centred approach to learning, yet ERO's national evaluations would suggest that practice is not matching rhetoric." (p13)
At first I was furious! How dare they say that. But after time to think, and read a bit more, I understood what they meant - data (National Standards/NCEA) is becoming more important to some schools than the students and what they need to learn. How can this be changed? What can we, as classroom teachers or school leaders, do?
MacGyver: The Maker Movement personified
The Maker Movement is an innovative approach to learning, with roots in the learning theories of constructivism and constructionism. Globally, educators are turning to this approach to learning in order to incorporate all areas of the curriculum and 21st century skills/key competencies. The Maker Movement "values human passion, capability, and the ability to make things happen and solve problems anywhere, anytime" (Martinez and Stager, 2014 p13). The student, or maker, is the centre of this approach. The Maker construct their knowledge as they create artifacts that have real-world value. This knowledge construction is done in both formal or informal settings, with adults and children working together. Classrooms that "celebrate the process of design and making...produce students who start to believe they can solve any problem" (Martinez & Stager, 2014 p13). This brings the student back to the centre of the learning focus.
Through my own experience of using a Maker approach with my Year 5 and 6 students, I have seen my students become more collaborative, more able to solve their own problems. Students who did not previously choose to work together (unless made to) are now having discussions about how to use equipment and what they think could work better. Students are talking to each other more, asking each other for help rather than expecting me (the teacher) to just give them the answer. Now when I say that I don't know something I'm always told "Well have you tried looking it up yet Miss?" My students are beginning to come to the realisation that they
can make their own knowledge, they don't need to rely on me to give them what they need to know - but they know that I'm there to back them up and help them if they get stuck.
Educators have the responsibility to help our students navigate the changes in how the education system works for them. Our students have the challenge of not knowing exactly what jobs/occupations will be available to them when they leave the education system in 10-15 years. I believe that by embracing the Maker Movement in our schools, our students will be more prepared for the unknown - they will be problem solvers, they will be able to collaborate effectively with others, they will be able to manage themselves appropriately for the situation. By embracing the Maker Movement the future will be less uncertain than it would be otherwise, our students will be prepared for the unexpected. Our students will be like MacGyver.