Guest post by Ben Daley, High Tech High
“Probably the greatest and commonest mistake we all make is to forget that learning is a necessary incident of dealing with real situations.”
John Dewey (p. 4), 1915
“I want a classroom full of craftsmen. I want students whose work is strong and accurate and beautiful.”
Ron Berger (p. 1), 2003
Our country is currently mesmerized by “raising student achievement,” by which people mean, but are too savvy to say out loud, “increasing scores on bubble tests.”
Meanwhile, in too many traditional schools, some students take vocational courses where they receive narrow skill training for a specific occupation while other students take academic courses where they receive “college prep.” (And that we can predict which students will be in which track, based on the socio-economic status of their parents, might give pause to any defenders of such a system).
In contrast, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology famously holds the motto “Mens et Manus” (Mind and Hand). But using both your hands and your mind need not be limited to the elite accepted into MIT. All students should make things. They should tinker. They should develop a habit of craftsmanship.
At High Tech High, we aspire to help our students create amazing work that they present to a real audience and for a real purpose. We want our students’ work to be known for its “style, detail, and craftsmanship.” We want people to say, “a kid did that?!”
Maker Faire embodies the best of this spirit. Maker Faire is about “showing what you’ve made and sharing what you’ve learned.”
So, how can we take the energy and enthusiasm of the Maker movement and infect our schools? And please, not just an after school club. Isn’t this work important enough to happen during the school day and for all kids?
Ben Daley is the chief academic officer for High Tech High and a faculty member at the High Tech High Graduate School of Education.