So if this all feels so right, why is it still so hard to convince some people that magic happens when you let go. I recently had a conversation that left me saddened and acutely aware of the gulf that still exists in our schools. Really good teachers, who care deeply about their students are still not convinced that having a makerspace or genius hour is important. I hear over and over again that there is not enough time to cover the existing curriculum without adding anything else to it. Or teachers worry about how to assess the time, how to make sure that every student is doing what they are supposed to. They say that keeping a room solely for creative, student-centered projects is a luxury that we can't afford. We need space for break out instruction, we need a space for recording, we need space for testing....
I feel the frustrations that space constraints put on a school. I understand that it is hard to see a room empty when there are so many needs. However, I also know that if we are to shift to a model that puts the student in the driver's seat, we need to provide space for that idea to take root and grow. If we really want to honor the idea that a maker space is different than a regular classroom and want to keep the excitement and enthusiasm of the students alive we need to honor the principles that set it apart from other instruction times. Below are the guiding principles that we have come up with for our iLab. I firmly believe in them and keep coming back to them. I reread them when I am challenged, just to check that they are still valid. I still believe.
- The learning is student-led, driven by student interest, not teacher-directed
- The space and learning invite and encourage inquiry, experimentation, creativity, risk-taking, iteration, and reflection
- The processes of learning are observed, not measured and support the development of the competencies of collaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking
- The space supports children as creators rather than consumers and encourages both construction and deconstruction.
- The space reflects voice and choice for children and breadth of experiences and exposure