Maker Education: community building and do-it-ourselves mentality

Edgar Andrade holds the position of “People Articulator”  at Fab Lab Recife. In fact, he is the organization’s CEO, an innovation company that takes design processes as tools for creative problem solving to companies and schools. Edgar is a rebel, in a good way: an admittedly bad student in his school days, he battles for a new education model, compatible with the reality of the 21st-century students. CER had the chance to chat with him during the 25th Bett Educar edition, where Edgar spoke about the Maker Movement and the future of schools in a lecture to hundreds of educators.

How does the Maker Movement contribute to education?

The Maker Movement doesn’t solve problems. Instead, it is an idea, a philosophy, a process, and an experience. The do-it-yourself movement actually tries to change the way we relate to consumption and goods. It is clear that a social model based on wealth accumulation doesn’t make sense anymore. A new society model with a sharing economy that mix both capitalism and socialism models are expected to flourish and different initiatives point that way: shared houses, cars, machines, coworking spaces.

Sharing and collaborative values will impact business models and experiences. A true innovation can be promoted by developing this movement also in education, be it in schools, day care centers or entrepreneurial education.

You used the expression ‘encapsulated disruptive processes’ to defend that changes and transformations should happen gradually and be long-lasting. Tell us about this concept and how the idea works in practice.

This line is originally from Luciano Meira (Joy Street founder) and it is an amazing idea. I was always eager to induce transformation and after talking to Luciano I understood that trying to change things in a hurry can be harmful to the change itself. The encapsulated disruptive process takes people to begin a transformation process and provoke changes by opening doors to new places, where disruption can be found. Just like a pill in our organism releases a substance that will cure or reduce a symptom, in some moment the disruption capsule explodes. At this moment, it will happen from the inside out and not because the company owner, teacher or manager decided to impose a change. Nobody innovates through imposition, but it must be created a culture of transformation instead. We should provoke people to develop their own solutions, whether in schools, community or companies.

Many teachers still resist Maker Education feeling they might lose control over the learning process once they share it with their students…

Teachers already lost control over education. The fact that children question schools relevance is already a symptom of that. For example, I’ve always enjoyed school subjects, History, writing and the activities we had at school. But I didn’t like school and grew up thinking I was a terrible student. I didn’t understand that the problem was the school itself and not me.

The problem is that, back in that time, schools were the only place where children had access to information, they were like a magical place where the world came to light. When the internet emerged, a new world came up with it. Today, children are born with no boundaries for information and knowledge. I didn’t like school, yet it was still necessary, but nowadays children question is: “is school actually important?”. Resisting the Maker Culture and the digital culture is a big mistake. Rather, teachers should be aware of what is going on and search for ways to learn along with their students. Teachers are no longer the ones who teach, they are mediators and curators of the learning process.

Educational institutions usually seek to provide high technology to students through makerspaces and fab labs. Are these the first steps to build a Maker Education?

It is natural to want to start from what is palpable right away. I don’t see any problem when someone asks me about the infrastructure needed or how much does it cost to set up a makerspace in a school. The problem is when a school wants to know the budget to set up a makerspace, but ignores that it requires a whole process of building a community.

It makes no sense to buy a lot of equipments, laser cutters, 3D printers and electronic components if the school does not know how to use a lab. It’s important to have a space, but even more important is to understand about parents’, teachers’ and students’ interest in participating in maker experiences. Everything will depend on the community the school will be able to create. Later on, the spaces will adapt according to the community’s own evolution. So, the question that remains is this: Do you have a maker community?

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