Wednesday, August 2, 2017

My Parents' Makerspace Lessons (1)

My parents were born during World War 2, 

children of the "Greatest Generation". 

My dad (top left) and five brothers served in the military, spanning World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Nephews and cousins also served. I think they are a pretty great generation, too!

Growing up, my parents learned to think for themselves, to improvise with resources at hand, to make (or fix) what they needed. My parents can:

  • prepare ground, plant and raise crops, fruit trees and grape vines, harvest and can the produce (making pie fillings, salsa, jam/jelly, applesauce...);
  • build: garage, deck, steps, benches, lamps, bookshelves, birdhouses, etc.;
  • complete basic automobile maintenance tasks and diagnose problems with vehicles of all types;
  • sew and create useful products: clothes, pillows, furniture covers, curtains...;
  • repair household problems: well pump, roofing, windows, sump pump, plumbing, etc.;
  • restore or repair furniture;
  • graft trees;
  • drive almost anything;
  • raise and care for animals of all types;
  • live "with" and live "without"

My dad and I built this light house together. Solar panels gather power all day, and my lighthouse is alight from dusk to dawn.


In case you think my parents are "mired" in a past era, you should know that they can also use the computer and internet, and install and uninstall programs. Though they don't use Facebook, my parents maintain a detailed family history through a popular genealogy site, play games on both laptops and tablets, and keep in touch with friends and family through email (and text messaging on their phones).

My dad built this Rabbit Run for his rabbits to get exercise. I helped finish it.


Their "Makerspaces" are born out of necessity, independence, and a healthy dose of willingness to try.


These days the "Makerspace" movement is gaining popularity, and it seeks to instill these same characteristics in the youth of today.

Isn't it funny, though we've "advanced" over the past 70+ years, our modern lifestyle has taken away a lot of our necessity for making things. Cell phones, air conditioning, internet, packaged foods, cable tv, microwaves, email, cell phones, fast food...

We're faced with an interesting tension: we want our students to "make," in other words, to think independently and critically, yet, in many ways we no longer have genuine necessity for "making". 


I confess that I don't have answers, just questions:


  • How can we make the most effective use of Makerspaces with the youth of today?
  • How can we use the Makerspaces to foster independence and willingness to try?
  • In what ways can we connect the youth of today to those who grew up in different generations? Can we capture and share stories, explore their lives, place our hands on their tools, identify the needs and the outcomes of their work?
  • Is there a place for mentoring within the Maker movement--by older, experienced Makers?


Another of our past projects was building oriole feeders. Mine was hugely successful until some critter stole the jelly holder!

For my classroom I have questions as well:


  • In what ways can I foster independent thinking and a willingness to try?
  • How can I share the lessons I've learned at the hands of my Maker parents?
  • Am I a Maker? Do I lead by example?

One winter we created this "Cat Condo" together.


In what ways are you encouraging your students to think independently, to create, to meet necessity with innovation? 


How are you a model of these attributes and actions? 


What advice do you have for others to try?

One summer project was a "covered bridge" bird feeder. **Did you know that you could burn wood to add beauty?

1 comment:

  1. Love this post! I have been resistant to "makerspaces," not because of the idea behind it, but because it seemed like such a trendy name for what some might think of as a fad. I had some similar experiences to you, but also, I've just always had STUFF to create things out of. It could have been taking something apart, or things from the backyard, or scrap wood. Maker is a mindset, and I don't want to see "makerspaces" fade away like so many other ideas in education. So much learning happens through the creation process!!
    Thank you for sharing this!
    Jennifer

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