My understanding of what’s important in education is changing.
Its becoming more active and more focused on making, creating and connecting.
I’m not sure if this is mental blowback from my thoughts about tablets of all type and my concerns with them being machines that are focused too much on information consumption or not; but whatever the cause, I’ve spent a good portion of my holidays wondering about makers and connectors.
What would classrooms be like if these were the focus of what we do?
Makers are people and spaces where the focus is on creating something. These artifacts may take many different forms. Spaces that focus on making would encourage kids to take and edit photos and videos. They might have kids who are working on writing as a serious craft. They might have students who are focused on coding and digitally creating. Makers might work in spaces where students are innovating and creating paintings or music or a new way to help people in the developing world store their food. They might be filled with people creating robots or building cabinets. What is created doesn’t matter in the least. What matters is that these spaces focus on passionate people involved with creative actions. They create. They participate. They share what they do. They look for feedback and improve what they are doing.
Connectors are people who focus on building relationships, understanding and communities. In spaces that focus on connections, people learn about their world. They participate in communities of understanding and see the world from a global perspective. These spaces focus on growing relationships around the world based on passions, geography or any number of other factors. In spaces where connection is a major focus, students learn to take part in communities of practice and learn to help others become effective group members. Connectors find and generate information. They can evaluate what their information needs are and create what is missing. They have a unique perspective on the world’s events.
Unfortunately, I think that makers and connectors are a small majority of teachers, students and learning spaces for an entire host of political, professional and personal reasons. While I believe that these skills are becoming increasingly relevant in our global society, education has instead become a game of listen and regurgitate where passing tests and moving along in the assembly line has become the focus. Besides textbook and test publishers; who does this type of education benefit? It is increasingly important that companies and individuals who are walking down these innovative paths and making these things possible are recognized and valued. Many of them are people who are creating innovative things and spaces simply because they are passionate about them. Others are groups of people creating open source software products for the benefit of people around the world. Still others are actual profit creating companies who understand the need for education to be something different.