Reflection on Class
I think I am ready to start messing with Arduino on my own. Finishing a project last week during class, I was getting a bit bored going through the step by step “recipes”. Where my continuing Arduino saga will take me, I do not know. What I do know is that I want to include some aspect of design thinking. I think it is important that what I do with Arduino have a purpose. The lack of true purpose – in the problem solving sense – is I think what I have begun to struggle with the little five minute Arduino recipes. In those cases, you create something that you immediately take apart to make another set up. I do not have a problem with reusing materials or taking apart and repurposing things, but I feel this desire for there to be a greater use for the components.
That all being said, I do understand the need to learn skills. What I would prefer, is that in learning the skills you gain a better understanding of what potential the skills provide. Alternatively, they Arduino “recipes” could talk about the types of problems that these individual set ups have the potential to solve. Given those ideas about the potential and limitations of the recipes, I would have a solid foundation of skills and ideas from which to design tools that solve a problem that I have identified.
I do not mean for the tutorials to do the research for me. Instead, I feel that if I can identify the basic “recipe” I need to solve a certain problem, then I can begin my own research. So, I guess that is a summary of what I experienced while working on my own last week.
I continue to be fascinated by group dynamics in a creative space like our home at the Ann Arbor District Library. If I had been working in a group, would I have had different thoughts about the Arduino tutorials? Where I lacked the information or familiarity to visualize how I could further apply the skills I had learned, I bet that someone else in the class does. I have that option and resource.
This may be a jump in logical lines of inquiry, but I then think about the situations where children are assigned seats in classes, usually with the goal of limiting interaction (read noise). Is that noise not essential? I agree that when a teacher is talking about something useful the kids should learn, but what about when they are working on a worksheet. Moving around the room to where they feel comfortable, allowing children who are getting it to teach others and solidify their knowledge, and letting those struggling to learn a trick from their peers. Anyways, it may be a small thing. I tend to be one to fix the small things first to more easily tackle the larger problem later.
Reflection on Reading
I really appreciate the idea from The Maker Movement in Education about how the maker movement has the potential to change idea of what learning is, who a learner is, and what constitutes a learning environment. It is an idea that has the potential to alter the conviction that children have to be bogged down with activities to learn and succeed. With the maker movement comes the idea to squish together the concepts of learning and play. Specifically, that people learn through play and that play is something that should therefore, be encouraged. I probably sound a bit like the progressive teacher mentioned in the same article who thinks about learning as creation of meaningful acts. To me, that means play.
It is almost like educators and those making education decisions need to create their own artist statement. If you think about teaching as an art, most similarly like theatre or drama is an art, it is very simple to apply the basic principles of an artist statement to what I will now call a teacher statement. It would speak to the fundamental underpinning of what it means to be an educator. Is there any talk in education circles about what inspires them to teach? I doubt that such a statement about their inspiration would include a sentence about students fitting into cookie cutter molds to pass standardized test. At least, I hope not…
I hope that artist statement would offer confidence that making or even simple play have a key place in the design for learning that would then inform schooling. I hope that such an artist statement would include a conviction about forwarding equality in education. Beyond makings ability to help those of lower socioeconomic statuses increase participation in technology and adding an aesthetic component that allows for the personalization of learning, it lets students take charge of their own education. They can choose to focus on the aesthetic or technology aspects more closely, they can choose what purpose their project will fulfill, and they can utilize the skills they have learned in a more formal setting in a way that makes sense to them.
I do not know if making is the answer. Our values and priorities are constantly in flux for the good or the bad. I do believe that making, especially as a more structured form of play, is a very good way to equalize certain aspects of the current education system. This is especially true, as there are very small changes individual teachers can make to include certain making ideas in their classroom. We will see if the movement gains traction at the school, district, or state level in time, but right now I am happy that some children are benefiting from it.