You have probably heard of Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences. For the scientist, logical-mathematical intelligence, used in IQ tests, should not be the only one considered in society. That is because there is a range of other intelligences developed in humans since childhood: linguistic, spatial, physical-kinesthetic, natural, interpersonal, intrapersonal and musical.
The broader development of the individual is one of the goals of Ross School, an elementary and middle school founded in 1991 in East Hampton, near New York. Grounded in Gardner’s theory, the institution has developed its own curriculum, which leads the student through a learning spiral and has various makerspaces – spaces to work hands-on and create other things – in order to develop multiple forms of intelligence from practice.
In this article, learn more about the Ross School method and how its makerspaces contribute to an education that helps young people to wholly develop, preparing them for what the 21st century demands.
Educate the child to the whole world: this goal is central to Ross School’s mission, as the school itself says. The school has a holistic view of students, working on issues of mind, body and spirit while offering possibilities for them to develop as many skills as they can. Another important bias is to prepare the student for the world by engaging them in the global community by valuing different cultures.
With that in mind, the entire Ross School curriculum follows, from early childhood education, the axis of the world’s cultural history, which is being taught chronologically. All other subjects, including natural and exact sciences, are integrated with each other and dialogue directly with the moment of cultural history in which the student is. This axis is the lens through which geography, myths, religious practices, philosophy, art, architecture, performance arts, scientific discoveries, law and technology are taught.
In an effort to allow students to develop various types of intelligence and incorporate integrated and practical learning, Ross School offers makerspaces with hands-on learning experiences. These creative spaces are dance and performance studios, metal and woodworking workshops, classrooms filled with artifacts, sports fields, science labs and visual arts studios.
In addition to the common subjects, students in the final grades of elementary and high school can choose from over 100 electives to discover their interests and train their skills using makerspaces. There is also the Innovation Lab, that is a program for high-performing students in science subjects, through which they further enhance their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) skills through advanced subjects and extensive practice. .
Ross’s methodology is concerned about training engaged and active individuals in society, as well as professionals prepared for the 21st century job market. Therefore, much of the practical teaching focuses on problem solving.
Makerspaces are increasingly present among innovative schools abroad and also in Brazil. They are a possible solution for institutions to exploit students’ multiple intelligences, helping them to develop their skills in a personalized and engaging manner. In addition, the strategy helps training students who are better prepared to deal with the world around them.
Basically, makerspaces are workshop-like prototyping labs that combine both manual and digital manufacturing techniques and technologies. Associated with education, they allow students to explore their ideas in practice, building product prototypes, developing existing projects, or even working on totally innovative solutions. Because of that, they are recognized as great allies of entrepreneurial education as they help to develop creativity, focus on problem solving and autonomy. Another advantage is to expose student, from an early age, to their own failures, including error as a fundamental part of learning, a value that will later be fundamental in the entrepreneurial career.
To better understand what makerspaces are and what are the main differences between them and fablabs, check out this article. But if you have already gone into it and are preparing to set up a makerspace in your school, read more about what an education-focused makerspace needs to have.